‘Tis the season of gift giving and thanking people for their help throughout the year. For the caregivers out there, those folks responsible for the daily needs and care of a family member or elderly individual, the help they provide throughout the year is priceless. They give of themselves unselfishly and, often, completely to the needs of someone else. If you have a caregiver on your gift list this year, here’s how you can show them your support and gratitude with just the perfect gift. We’ve offered up some ideas in both the form of physical gifts, as well as things that cost very little but could mean so much:
Set Up a Series of Coffee or Lunch Dates
Being a caregiver can be extremely lonely and isolating. Set up a schedule for regular coffee or tea dates so you can show your support throughout the year. These escapes can be just what the caregiver in your life needs to have a chance for relaxing conversation and to get out of the house for something other than an errand. If they are housebound, show up with their favorite beverage from a local café or their favorite sandwich for an impromptu lunch. These informal meetings are a perfect time to ask them how they are doing overall. See if you can help them figure out other ways to support them without waiting for them to ask.
Meals & Food
While they may say they have everything handled just fine, planning and preparing meals every day is a big burden! Everyone has to eat – so why not cook up one of your homemade specialties and deliver a full dinner to their door. You could also plan several days of meals for them and deliver all the main dishes premade with the supplies for anything else they might need. Handing over the fresh goods is hard for anyone to refuse.
Gift baskets full of small things to brighten the day of a tired caregiver can be a perfect pick-me-up. Include their favorite beverages and snacks, maybe a puzzle book, stationary items, or a personalized blanket. You can add in a gift card to their favorite retailer or for some pampering (think manicure or massage). When in doubt, flowers always bring a smile to people’s faces!
A Clean & Well Maintained House
Regular chores such as housekeeping and routine maintenance tend to fall to the wayside when someone is busy caring for a loved one. It’s not comfortable or relaxing to live in a dirty house. Whether it’s mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or fixing a leaky faucet, taking care of home maintenance tasks can be a huge relief. Whether you commit to showing up regularly to compete these chores yourself, or hire someone to do it, these gifts can make someone’s life much easier.
When someone is responsible for an ailing adult, getting some relief on their other caregiving duties can be a wonderful gift. Free at just the cost of your time, offer to take over childcare or dog-sitting duties for a day so they can grab some alone time, go on a date with their partner, or grab a workout.
Talking about money is taboo in many families, but many caregivers suffer financially when their care responsibilities interfere with normal working schedules, or create added expenses. Giving money doesn’t sound very “thoughtful” or personal, but it can often provide much needs assistance at a critical time. You might offer to cover a specific cost like a car payment or the grocery bill, or offer some gift cards to their utility company or grocery store.
Smiles, Calls & Love
Never forget the power that a warm smile, and words of support and appreciate can bring! While you can’t understand the full impact of caregiving until you’ve been there, a universal caregiver need is to feel acknowledged and cared about. Smiles, hugs, and other demonstrations of love offer comfort and are also shown to reduce stress and boost the immune system. Knowing that the people closest to them are thinking about them and sending good vibes even when you’re not together is a great comfort for many caregivers.
A Night Out
Another great present for a caregiver is a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or tickets to a concert or event. Give them a night out to enjoy a good meal or some entertainment. A fantastic accompaniment to this gift is to take care of their older adult (or pay for caregiving help) so they can really relax and enjoy getting out of the house.
Give the Gift of Some Time Off
Time off for a caregiver can seem inconceivable to them. Imagine – if you had no hope for some time off to yourself to do something relaxing! Just the idea of that concept makes most of us feel overwhelmed and very stressed. Now imagine that is your reality. That your loved one depends on you so much, and so completely, that you have no hope of time off. That is the reality for many caregivers, and it’s also the reason that caregivers become ill themselves.
The gift of some free time can be the most meaningful way to show how much you appreciate the effort and sacrifice a relative or friend spends caregiving. What we hear many caregivers want is some time off, free of responsibilities for a while. Offer to come stay with their parent or spouse who they care for so they can have an afternoon to themselves, or pools some family members together to cover for them so they can go on a weekend excursion or vacation.
Offer Some Professional Support
One of the best gifts you might consider for the caregiver in your life might be some professional support for their ongoing care taking responsibilities so that they can have an afternoon off every week to recharge themselves, or some help with the daily chores and errands.
At Arcadia New England, we have a team of fully screened and trained staff who are ready to assist with medical care, personal care, and companionship needs. Let us take the worry of care off the shoulders of a caregiver, and help with your loved one’s care needs!