In the US, 29% of aduts are family caregivers. Caregivers face many challenges, especially during the holiday season. Non-caregivers face a huge challenge during the holiday season, buying gifts for caregivers! Hunter asked me, his mom and caregiver, to offer a few helpful holiday gift ideas for the caregiver on your list.
Hunter’s blog, Gift Ideas for Adults With Disabiltiies, offers many excellent ideas. Ironically, many of those suggestions are also excellent holiday gift ideas for caregivers! Caregivers face the same isolation as those they care for. They also benefit from items which make daily chores easier. So please forgive me for the repitition of some items.
Tablets– Tablets or laptops are wonderful holiday gift ideas for caregivers. As a caregiver myself, I use my tablet all the time. There are times I spend long periods of time in the waiting room. I am able to not only get my work done, but also use it to stave off boredom. My tablet connects me to much needed research, shopping and socialization.
Amazon Echo or Google Home– Like Hunter, I am partial to Amazon Echo. I use my Echo for placing orders via Amazon.com. However, I use it mostly to listen to music and audiobooks. The voice command feature just simply makes my life easier.
Robot Vacuum/floor mop– OK…who doesn’t want a robot cleaning your floors!
Smart Watches– Caregivers have a great deal of daily stress. One of the side effects of stress is memory issues. Smart watches can assist in scheduling and medication reminders.
FitBit– Caregivers seem to care for everyone except themselves. FitBit offers great motivation for caregivers to take the time for themselves. Additionally, FitBit offers access to a supportive community of other FitBit users.
Wireless/Bluetooth Headphones– Wireless/Bluetooth headphones may seem like a strange gift, but it can be very useful for caregivers. Many times a caregiver must stay in the same room as those they are caring for. Wireless headphones can allow a caregiver the opportunity to listen to music, a book or TV without waking or disturbing the person they are caring for. These headphones are also great for waiting rooms and hospital rooms.
An important consideration when buying gift cards for a caregiver is their ability to use them. Do they have respite workers to allow them these little get aways? If not, are you able to provide them some respite time? Focus on places the caregiver on your list would love, but would not spend the money on themselves.
Restaurants– Eating out can be difficult for some caregivers. Pick a relaxing, quiet restaurant. Avoid family type restaurants or loud places such as sports bars. If a caregiver can not get away, gift cards to restaurants which deliver are appreciated. Some cities have delivery services which allow one to order from restaurant which do not offer delivery.
715Delivery offers such a service in the Wausau area.
Fun Activities- The choices are endless. Movie theaters, concerts, bowling, or Escape Rooms are just a few suggestions.
Hotel/Resort Get Away- When I have days off, I honestly do not know what to do with myself. Most days off are spent working on home projects. Sometimes caregivers need a bit of direction in regards to true get aways. Combine the Hotel with restaurant and activity gift cards.
Amazon-Let’s face it, you can find anything on Amazon!
Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime– All of these subscriptions offer movies and TV episodes. Amazon Prime also offers music and free 2 day shipping on all Amazon Prime purchases. As a caregiver, I struggle to keep up with shopping. Amazon Prime makes shopping easy and inexpensive.
Audible.com– I have had a love of reading since I was a little girl. However, I find that I no longer have the time to read. Additionally, when I do snuggle under a blanket to read, I fall asleep. I listen to audiobooks when cleaning, doing yardwork, on the treadmill and in the car.
Of-the-Month Clubs- Of-the-Month Clubs are excellent holiday gift ideas for caregivers. There are so many to choose from. Caregiving is isolating and getting a special box in the mail every month is definitely a way to brighten a caregivers day.
Magazines or Book of the Month Club- Reading material is not only a way to pass time in waiting rooms, sometimes it is an escape. During one of Hunter’s hospital stays, I remember losing myself in a Harlan Coben novel. I was able to take my mind off of the worry and stress while Hunter was sleeping.
Caregivers have a lot on their plates. Many have made incredible financial sacrfiices to care for their loved ones. Household chores and maintenance are neglected. Services once paid for are no longer affordable. Below are a few examples of services which make excellent gifts. A service can be hired or can be performed by you!
Lawn mowing and/or snow removal– My elderly neighbor was a caregiver for his disabled wife. I would shovel his snow for him. It cost me nothing but a bit of time. However, it meant the world to him. My youngest son mows my lawn and helps me with leaf removal, this makes my life so much easier.
Home Repair Projects- If you have the talent and equipment, home repair projects are gifts that can relieve a great deal of stress for a caregiver. If you don’t have the ablities, hire someone who does. No project is too small!
Housecleaning- Recently, I was talking to a family caregiver. They expressed how overwhelming it was to try to keep up on all the housework. The gift can be a one time deep cleaning, monthly cleanings or weekly cleanings. If you have a tight budget, this is a priceless, but affordable gift to give any caregiver.
Naptime- Exhaustion is a common issue for caregivers. Many caregivers are on call 24 hours a day. Others struggle to sleep peacefully due to stress. Commit to relieving a caregiver once a week for a few hours. Or present the caregiver with coupons which can be redeemed as needed.
Meditation Videos/Class- Meditation is an effective stress reliever. If possible, commit to attend class with the caregiver. If giving a video, include a mat, meditation beads and sage. Meditation has done wonders for my ability to handle stress and has helped improve my sleep habits.
Yoga- Much like the gift of meditation, this can come in the form of a class or video. If gifting a video, include a yoga mat and accessories.
Massages- Caregiving takes a toll on the body. Personally, I struggle with chronic pain in my shoulders and arms due to lifting Hunter. Massages are a wonderful gift of relaxation and pain relief.
Gym Membership- As I mentioned before, caregivers are notorious for taking care of everyone else but themselves. A YMCA or other gym membership is not only a gift of health, but also may be a gift of socialization.
Caregiving can be a very isolating and lonely job. Many caregivers are unable to get out and socialize. If you know such a caregiver, give the gift of time. Gift time to talk, eat a meal, play cards or just to be a shoulder to cry on. Caregiving can be a short term situation, but in many situations it is long term. Long term caregivers find that their world gets smaller and smaller. Friends and family fade away over time. Depression sets in, as well as a host of depression related health issues. Holidays can be the worst time, especially in the age of social media. Photos of fun holiday activities are plastered all over feeds and pages. It can be a painful reminder of what once was. Time is the least expensive gift of all, but it is also the most valuable.
Shopping for the caregiver on your list does not have to stressful or expensive. Evaluating the situation can give valuable clues as to which gift would be most beneficial and appreciated. Of course, going directly to the source to inquire what gift is wanted is not a bad idea either.
My message to caregivers is to welcome gifts that will make your life easier! Givers can sometimes make the worst recievers!
In the wise words of my son, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’