The holidays can be a stressful time for virtually anyone and everyone, but perhaps none more so than caregivers as they try to get into a festive mood while dealing with what can be an exhausting burden.
If you work with caregivers or know of them, here are some meaningful gifts to consider this season, courtesy of CaringBridge, AARP, and DailyCaring.
Time Off / Regular Breaks – The gift of time can be a very meaningful way to show how much you appreciate the time and effort a relative or friend spends on caregiving. What many caregivers want is for time off and for someone else to do the giving. Our community suggested massage gift certificates and a spa trip as a couple different options for some relaxing time away.
Or, commit to helping with caregiving tasks on a regular basis. That could mean one weekend every few months, one day a month, 3 hours each week, 2 hours every other week – whatever you can commit to will be a big help. If you can’t help in person, consider a gift card to help pay for in-home care or respite care for their older adult so they can still get some time off.
Gift Baskets – Of fruit, flowers, or pampering bath items will brighten a tired caregiver’s outlook. Fun fact: flowers have been scientifically proven to increase the happiness chemicals in our brain — and flowers can be ordered online and delivered almost anywhere the same day. Also, wine, gift cards (Amazon, groceries, house cleaning, gas, favorite restaurants), blankets, puzzles, a basket of snacks, treats of the month clubs, etc.
Meals – Cooking and planning meals can add stress to a caregiver’s already hectic life. Load up their freezer with home-cooked meals that can be easily re-heated, or order pizza delivery.
Coffee Dates – After the holidays, don’t disappear into your own busy life. Set up a schedule for regular coffee or tea dates so you can continue to show your support throughout the year. Take them out to their favorite coffee shop or bring their favorite beverage to the house. If you live far away, give them a gift card to their favorite coffee shop and make a phone date so they can sip their favorite drink while you catch up.
Clean House / Maintain Home – Cleaning often is just one more exhausting chore for caregivers. Arrange for a cleaning service or do it yourself to give them a break. Similarly, there are always household chores that need to be done, whether it’s mowing the lawn, fixing a slow drain, or getting leaves out of the gutter. Do them yourself or hire a handyman.
Child Care/Dogsitting – Give them a break from childcare or dog-sitting duties so they can go out, work out, or get a massage.
Smiles and Hugs – Simple yet effective, and can reduce stress, boost the immune system, and many other benefits.
Fun – Get them a spa day, a massage, mani-pedi, movie or theater tickets, garden tour, wine-and-paint date, or a round of golf, whatever they enjoy.
Monetary Support – Sounds like something Seinfeld would do, but it can be thoughtful. Caregivers often bear the burden of their loved one’s health care costs, and financial support may be critical at this time. It could be helping with hospital parking costs or a car payment.
Quality Time – Be there. Show up. Caregivers need someone to check on them; they often make their care recipient their top priority, but they need to be a priority too.
Prayers – Knowing that the people closest to you are thinking of you and sending you prayers can be therapeutic as well.
Yoga – Yoga is a great way for caregivers to clear their minds and stay in the present moment. Give them a yoga mat, a DVD, or a gift certificate to a local yoga studio.