When your holiday shopping includes a caregiver, it can be a challenge to decide what to give.
The top three things most caregivers find in short supply are…
- Stress relief
I’ve never had anyone refuse a gift of cash. But it doesn’t always feel right to give someone cash. And while caregivers give freely of themselves, they often find it hard to give to themselves. So depending upon the person you’re shopping for, the cash gift may not end up buying something for the caregiver, instead going to family, friends or even the carereceiver.
And maybe as someone who cares for the caregiver, you recognize that what he or she really needs is time or stress relief. Here are some suggestions to get you started about ways to provide caregivers with gifts they want and need.
The Gift of Time
One thing that caregivers are often short on is time. It’s challenging juggling all the responsibilities they have. There is seldom enough time or hands in the day to accomplish everything on their lists. This gift can be something meaningful you can do for the caregiver, and may mean more than an expensive gift.
Give a gift certificate for your time or expertise. This is a great way to remember the caregiver all year long, not just during the holidays. Examples include:
- Handmade coupons for helping can range from offering to cook meals, do chores, mow the lawn, shovel snow, wash the car and more. How about doing grocery or errand shopping?
- Respite coupons promise you’ll watch the carereceiver for a certain amount of time to recharge or to run errands. Or to actually make and keep that appointment you know they need. Whether it’s only a few hours or a day or two, it can be a much-needed, welcome break for the caregiver. How about combining coupons with another family member? As an example, one could clean house while the other watches the carereceiver. Or you can take turns with each chore.
- Do you have expertise that the caregiver needs? Maybe you can offer to do taxes or something related to your career. Could your skills in sewing be used to make new draperies? Or something else the caregiver needs? Do you save coupons and could save ones for the caregiver too?
- Keep in touch. Caregivers often feel isolated and lonely. Providing a phone minutes, whether landline, cell phone or Skype and an offer to talk regularly at a prearranged time can reduce caregiver isolation. Allowing the caregiver to vent freely without criticism or judgment can be a welcome respite. Adding a coffee or tea gift pack with a suggestion that you each have your favorite beverage can make it a truly memorable and cozy call.
The Gift of Healthy Food
Eating healthy can be a challenge for anyone, especially for busy caregivers. Juggling responsibilities with schedules can leave the caregiver without healthy alternatives too frequently. By giving the Gift of Healthy Food, you are helping the careiver’s time problem and helping to counteract stress with nutrients and good food.
Here are some ways you can help…
- Gift certificates at restaurants (eat in or take out) close to the caregiver. Including a take out menu can save the caregiver time. Or how about dinner for two so the caregiver and significant other can enjoy a night out?
- Provide home cooked meals, whether monthly, weekly or your choice of frequency. You could even provide “care package meals” for the freezer that can be defrosted and reheated.
- Gift of the month club membership. You have many options here, and they’re not just limited to food. Most memberships have a variety of times, from 3 month packages to 12 month.
- Create your own gift basket. You could fill it with healthy foods, coffee, teas, hot chocolate or other treats.
The Gift of Self-Care
The caregiver caring for himself or herself is too often not the case. A gift of self care can help, although you may have to ensure that the gift is actually used.
- Improve overall well-being and health with Heart Math products. They work all year long without travel to a gym or spa.
- Gym membership, assuming the caregiver will actually use it. When you give a gift that takes the caregiver away from the caregiving, it’s important to also consider providing care while she’s away.
- Day of pampering at a spa, massage certificate or manicure. Again, this assumes that care can be provided and that the caregiver will actually use it.
- You also could buy or create your own spa package with stress-relieving items like scented candles, essential oils, bath salts, lotions and more.
The Gift of Laughter
One of the fastest methods of stress reduction is to laugh. It’s impossible to be frustrated, stressed or angry when laughing. Aim for 3 laughs a day to reduce caregiver stress.
- Provide comics or a joke on a regular basis. Giving the caregiver a few minutes respite may seem silly, however laughter truly is frequently the best medicine.You can find comics and jokes online or in books. Or maybe something funny happened in your life you can share and laugh about together.
- DVDs of comedies, whether TV or movies. One of the best gifts we had were close captioned videos of The Andy Griffith Show. The old-fashioned humor entertained both my mother and me, and she enjoyed watching “Opey” grow up.
- Subscription to Netflix, Hulu, a DVR Service like TiVo or Premium Cable Channels. This may be a very cost-effective solution, especially for one of the online options that run $10 or less a month.
Other Ideas for Gifts
- Gift cards. Don’t know what she’d like or need? How about a gift card or certificate to a mall, store or if she likes online shopping to an online store.
- Handmade crafts. Are you crafty and would like to share your gifts? A hand knit scarf or hat may be very much appreciated by someone who has to spend time outdoors in the cold winter months. If you’re not a craft person, you can also check online crafts stores like Etsy for unique handmade items.
- Ideas From Gift Collections. Online stores like Zazzle even have Caregiver Gift Collections. Even if you don’t see what you want, the collections may inspire you with ideas you can use.
For more options, check out these other articles…
- Thanking Caregivers: 5 Great Gifts for Family Caregivers
- Gift Ideas for Caregivers
- Gift Ideas for All Your Caregivers
- Gifts for Caregivers
- Great Gifts for Caregivers
Help make this gift guide better! Share your ideas and best gifts you’ve given or received in the comments.
To your Happy&Healthy Caregiving,
Ina Gilmore MD
Global Purple Angel Dementia Ambassador
P.S. November is National Family Caregiver Month and Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Join us in honoring, supporting and helping care partners on the Caregiving Heroes Facebook Page.