Being a caregiver can be both exhausting and isolating. The very name implies a constant giving of oneself. Selfless and focused on the needs of a loved one, caregivers sometimes don’t ask for anything in return and won’t request anything specific. They are often more concerned for the needs of the person they are helping than their own. If such generous people are on your holiday list this year, here are a few ideas for gifts for caregivers that will certainly brighten their season.
The gift of time is priceless and will be a welcome relief for any caregiver. Caregivers can often feel over-stretched, with home, work and caregiving responsibilities. Take some of that weight off their shoulders and give them back some much-needed time in their schedule. This gift can be given in a number of ways. Write a card with a promise to take over a specific chore every week or month. Remind the recipient that you expect them to use that newly freed time for themselves – to relax, run personal errands, or take up a hobby. Another gift idea could include doing an overdue chore – such as paperwork filing, closet organizations, car repair, or another skill you might have. This will be one less thing for the caregiver to worry about, as well provide a bit more time. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are specific with your offer. Don’t just ask, “How can I help,” but give the caregiver a promise of a certain task and follow through with it.
Caregiving can be expensive with everything from medical bills to daily meals eating away at limited budgets. Covering some of those expenses can be a helpful, meaningful gift. Get creative and thoughtful when you are giving a gift of money. Gifting a check or cash can be impersonal. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends gift certificates or gift cards as great gifts for caregivers. Consider expenses they incur regularly such as grocery stores or online retail such as Amazon.com. Think also about which services or expenditures a caregiver might give up if money becomes tight. This might include manicures, hair appointments, or lawn care. Provide a gift card to allow them to continue those services. This is also a great gift idea for caregivers who live far away. Step in and help by providing gift cards to a local housekeeping service or food deliveries. In these ways, you can make every day life just a bit easier for the caregiver and take some burden off their budget.
Sometimes the best gift for a caregiver is one of absolute indulgence. A gift that is just for the caregiver, reminding him or her to care for himself or herself for a bit can be just what the caregiver needs to recenter and refocus. If they don’t have a personal tablet, such as an iPad or a Kindle, now is a great excuse to buy them one. The AARP recommends filling it with reading material so they always have something to read, whether they are sitting at home or waiting in the hospital or at appointments. You could also buy an iPod and fill it with favorite music, podcasts, or other things to listen to while waiting or driving. Make sure the caregiver’s car has an easy way to play the device through the speaker system. You could also fill their device with favorite movies. A subscription to a movie or television streaming service, such as Netflix or Hulu, is another indulgent gift idea. Of course, it doesn’t have to be pricey to be indulgent. A bubble bath, a special treat with coffee, or warm pajamas can serve as a reminder to caregivers to take a moment to care for themselves.
It might be the ultimate in indulgence, but sometimes a getaway is the perfect gift for a caregiver. Many friends and family may want to pitch in to cover a plane ticket or vacation for a tired caregiver. This is a great way to help a caregiver and their family see relatives in other locations or just get away to a favorite location. Of course this would be luxurious and may exceed your budget so you may want to consider something more local. A gift certificate to a bed and breakfast or resort hotel in town, with a promise to stay with the patient or children at home, would be a welcome treat. Also consider zoo or museum memberships, admission to local parks, or tickets to a sports game or music event. Caregiving can keep one at home so these gifts act as an opportunity to get out and explore.
If there is a specific disease or cause close to the heart of the caregiver on your holiday list, consider shopping with organizations or businesses that support that cause directly. You can find lots of gifts – from jewelry to home goods and everything in between – that give back with every purchase you make. Your caregiver recipient will love the gift as well as enjoy knowing that their favorite cause was supported. For instance, the American Parkinson Disease Association lists shops that have promised a portion of their proceeds to their association.
Gifts for caregivers should be personal and specific. Give them something that will save them time and money and remind them to slow down a bit. Whatever you choose, make it from the heart.