Gifts for Caregivers
If you’ve ever caught yourself saying to a family caregiver, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help…” then you probably know that it can be difficult to discern how and when you can support a caregiver. A caregiver him or herself might not even know how to tell you how to help, or may be hesitant to really accept your assistance. Caregiving can also be an isolating endeavor, with people finding it hard to break out and let others know when they really could use assistance.
That said, there are ways you can help a caregiver with small gestures and gifts, whether for a special occasion or “just because.” With November being Family Caregivers Month, it’s a perfect time for gift-giving. Below are 10 unique gift ideas for caregivers:
1. Encouragement and Support
This gift is free and unlimited! Make yourself available for visits and chats, letting them vent as needed, and supporting as best you can. Perhaps they can even find time to join you for a weekly walk around the neighborhood. Having an appointment like that to look forward to can be a lifeline in the most stressful times. As an added bonus, you could bring a little treat to your visit, from a frozen yogurt to a nice cold soda. Remember that it’s the gesture that counts, and having someone show they care can make a big impact for the caregiver.
2. Small Chores
If a person is constantly busy helping another human being survive and conduct daily tasks, there are countless small chores that can fall through the cracks. Look around and see what chores are easy and simple enough for you to do yourself. For example, you can wash their car or clean out their gutters. Or, consider even smaller actions that are still thoughtful, like taking their empty trash can in from the curb, putting their newspaper on their front porch, or doing any other small thing that needs attention. Every little action the caregiver does not have to do him or herself can make a difference.
3. Grocery Shopping
If you have time and go to the grocery store on a regular basis, why not offer to pick up items for the caregiver as well? You could go a more formal route – telling them ahead of time so they can write and give you a shopping list and money – or perhaps less formal, sending them a text while you’re at the store, “Need anything from the grocery store?” You may be surprised at how just a loaf of bread or a bottle of laundry detergent might save the caregiver a huge amount of time and energy not trying to arrange their own visit to the store. Drop off the items on your way home with a smile and you’ve made a huge difference!
4. Donation in their Loved One’s Name
If the caregiver is caring for a family member or spouse, you might consider making a donation in the loved one’s name through an appropriate organization, such as the Alzheimer’s Association. Perhaps you have a shared interest with the loved one, such as your alma mater or a community service organization, like an animal shelter. Almost all organizations have a way you can give in honor of another person, whether it is a brick on a sidewalk, a name on a bulletin board, or a card sent from the organization. These types of gifts are great for people who “have everything,” but can still be a touching tribute to the caregiver’s loved one.
If you have a favorite dish that’s easy to warm up, make an extra batch, put it in a foil pan, and drop it off at the caregiver’s house. Make sure to give him or her a heads up ahead of time so they don’t plan for supper, then drop off the meal at an agreed upon time. Don’t stay for dinner unless you’ve already planned this with the caregiver, as an unexpected guest can add additional stress to the evening routine. Casseroles are a great option since you can prepare them then drop them off to be baked by the caregiver when he or she is ready. They can also be divided and frozen in portions to be eaten later. If you are delivering closer to mealtime, you can also simply pick up a hot meal from a favorite drive-through or local restaurant. Just be sure to keep in mind any dietary restrictions and ease of preparation.
6. Entertainment On-Demand.
When you’re caring 24-hours a day for another human being, you often end up working around their schedule. As a result, you don’t see much “prime time” tv and must often wait for reruns to catch any of your favorite episodes. It’s a small thing, but finding time to watch your favorite show can be just what a caregiver needs to relax. If you have the funds, why not set up the caregiver with a system for recording and watching their favorite shows on-demand. Options like TiVo and a DVR work with tvs, while a subscription to Netflix allows them to stream shows through their computer or other devices.
7. Gift certificate for a Massage, Manicure or Pedicure
Caregiving can be hard on a person’s body, as days are often spent lifting and moving someone who is no longer very mobile. A one-hour massage can do wonders in helping the caregiver feel restored and ready to take on a new day. In the same way, caregivers often have to prioritize their loved one over themselves, meaning pampering activities – like a manicure or pedicure – can fall by the wayside. Make it easier for them to care for themselves with a simple gift card.
8. Gift Certificate for Lawn Care, House Cleaning, or Other Chores.
Again, chores that were once simple and perhaps even enjoyable can become next to impossible when caring for someone else full-time. You can find affordable and reliable services for everything ranging from house cleaning to lawn care to dog walking. Why not take one thing off the caregiver’s to-do list with one (or more) service visits from a provider? It might be something they would never do for themselves but would greatly appreciate as a gift.
9. The Gift of Time
The easiest and most affordable gift you can give a caregiver is just a bit of free time to do whatever they need to do… or the time to do nothing at all! You may have to insist, but tell the caregiver you want to come over for even just an hour and sit with the loved one (or perhaps, be in the house while he or she naps) so that the caregiver can take a shower, get out of the house, run an errand alone, or even take a nap. Ensure that the caregiver does not feel he or she has to entertain you when you come (avoid meal times, etc. so they don’t feel like they have to feed you) and reassure them that you will call them if anything happens beyond your control. Then politely kick them out for some free time. They may not know what to do with themselves, but even going to a book store to peruse the aisles for 45 minutes can make a huge impact on a person’s outlook.
10. Pay for a Session of Respite Care
If you have the funds and are looking for a more substantial gift, many professional elder care organizations offer “respite care” designed specifically to support caregivers by giving them a regular, scheduled amount of time on their own, providing professionals to care for the dementia patient while they are out. This, of course, would be a much-appreciated gift for any caregiver.
Do you know an inspiring caregiver?
Enter our Family Caregiver Photo Contest on Facebook and you could win them an iPad! Now that would be a great gift!