Gifts for a Caregiver
Most of which won’t cost you a dime!
‘Tis the Season of Giving!
Who knows better what it means to give than a caregiver? Caregivers give of themselves day in and out, often with no notice or appreciation.
Some caregivers will never ask for anything for themselves. Exhausted, they plod through life, loathe to complain, because they cherish their loved one, yet wishing they could just have a break!
Do you know someone like this! A caregiver?
There are caregivers who work for pay. These still feel the burden of the person they care for, but they usually can clock out at the end of their shift. Not so for the family of friend caring for a loved one.
Whether the caregiver you know takes care of a sick loved one, or a family member who is not outwardly sick, yet because of age, disability, or dementia, cannot care for themselves, the burden of mental stress is similar. There are underlying anxieties regarding the future, as well as many demands upon their time and attention.
As we enter into a season of giving, let’s remember those who are hidden at home. Here are a few suggestions specifically for the caregiver.
What to give a Caregiver as a gift
1. A break
- I’ll say it again for those in the back! WHAT CAREGIVERS WANT MOST IS A BREAK!!!
- Make a plan, schedule a time, do a coupon book for them to redeem when necessary, or sometimes just show up and send them away! Some caregivers may never ask, but you can be sure they need time to recharge!
- Even better–get with someone else and plan for an outing that they can enjoy with a friend!
2. A listening ear.
- This could be your ear.
- Another way to find a listening ear is to connect them with a support group for caregivers.
- I joined a Facebook support group for those caring with Lewy Body Dementia. My dad has this, and the people who share on this group add so much insight into the journey they are on. It’s not all easy, and sometimes I’m in tears as I read about a loved one or caregiver experiencing frustration, anger, apathy, and fear. Having support helps the caregiver to not feel so alone, and the people are great at giving suggestions.
- Support groups exist for just about every condition out there, some in person, some online, on social media, etc.
- Note that Caregiver Burnout is a very real thing. There are many resources online for explaining and assessing, then addressing burnout that so frequently happens among full-time caregivers. Here is one resource from the Cleveland Clinic. A quick google search will reveal multiple assessments and tools for dealing with burnout. The suggestions in this article also will help to relieve some of the stress to the caregiver, but it’s important to keep your interventions consistent.
3. A massage
- Caregivers are exhausted. Pamper them a little!
- Regular massages–if possible, make a massage a regular part of the week.
- Massage releases endorphins (chemicals that make you feel good), relieves stress, soothes sore muscles, and makes you feel like a million bucks (if you stay awake long enough to notice!).
- You don’t have to be a trained therapist to do a relaxing massage. You can perform a gentle back and arm massage in a chair or a bed.Include the loved one in this–they would love a massage too
4. A home retreat.
- Time in the home to take a bath, enjoy a cup of tea, take a walk without worrying about danger to their loved one
- In other words–you stay with the loved one or take them away.
- It can be hard for a caregiver to stop doing the caregiving if they are still in the home. So, it’s good for one party to go for a time.
5. Gift certificate for a meal away.
6. Cook for them, then clean up!
7. Do the laundry
8. Take the loved one out, if possible.
- This gives fun for the loved one, and a break for the caregiver.
- If you can’t take them out, you can still offer to go sit with them, play games, listen to music, watch a video, strum an instrument, or just talk.
- Let the caregiver know that you will be responsible for any needs the loved one has during this time. Bathroom, food, water, assistance ambulatory (getting around), medication. This kind of goes along with the home retreat (above).
- Out can simply mean a change of scenery. Take the loved one out onto the porch, push their chair into another room, anything to give them a diversion and allow the caregiver to feel detached, and not responsible for a time.
9. Run Errands/shop.
- Most of the time, a full-time caregiver can’t just get away to do simple things, like run to the store, go to the post office, or take the recycling or dump. You can relieve their burden by offering to do these things sometimes, or regularly. This is a great job for teen drivers who enjoy the chance to use the car.
- Go grocery shopping from their list, or help them place an online order and you go pick it up.
- Mail their packages, pick up stuff, haul off large items for them.
10. Hire a Fix-It Person, or offer to do minor home repairs.
- Not all caregivers will need this, but if they’re full-time involved in caring for someone, the household responsibilities may get shelved. This especially can happen if the loved one who is ailing has been the primary Fix-It person, like my dad. I find that our teen guys are great at this, and their help is much appreciated.
11. Offer a book from the experiences of others in their shoes.
These Chicken Soup for the Soul books are written from caregivers own experiences. It helps to know they are not alone!
Caregivers are wonderful people! They are the unsung superheroes that work behind the scenes.
Make sure your caregiver friend or family member feels appreciated and valued, at Christmas time, and all throughout the year!
If these gift ideas are useful for you, please be sure to pass them along to anyone else who could use the ideas!
Did I leave anything out that a caregiver would want? Please let me know in the comments!