Family caregivers are the hardest working people you’ll ever know. They’ve given up their freedom and free time to tend to the needs of their husband, wife, mother, sister, child or even a stranger due to an illness, disability or injury. They are under constant stress, often working full-time jobs and losing sleep to help someone in need.
Caregivers are prone to depression and stress-related illnesses, and they often neglect their own healthcare needs in order to care for someone else. They often feel overwhelmed, lonely, worried and tired. Self-care is important to the well-being of caregivers, but they often don’t know how or where to get it. The holidays are a great time to show the caregiver in your life that you care about him or her, and you understand their plight.
First, if you suspect that your caregiver friend is suffering from mental health issues related to caregiving, work with him or her and encourage them to get the help they need. Encourage him or her to see a doctor who may prescribe some anti-anxiety medication or stress-relief activities. If they need to see a therapist, offer to sit with their charge while they go to appointments. Mental wellness is important so that he or she can continue to provide quality care for others, as well as live their own life of fulfillment.
Here are some gift ideas for the caregiver in your life:
- Time — Spend time with him or her. Often, they are isolated and just need someone to talk to and vent. Take him or her out for coffee and be a good friend. If they insist they can’t leave their person, bring over some lattes or a bottle of wine and visit.
- A day off — Respite is an important part of care. Giving the caregiver a break can make a world of difference. Offer to take over care for a day or two while he or she goes to do something fun, such as shopping, seeing a movie or going out-of-town.
- Clean the house — Offer to clean their house for them. You can do it yourself or pay for a cleaning service. Or, if they don’t live with the person they care for, offer to clean that person’s house so that the caregiver doesn’t have to worry about those chores.
- Give food — Whether you cook for them or you pay for the food, any day you don’t have to spend time in the kitchen is a break. Cook a nice casserole that can be frozen and then popped in the oven, or pay for dinner delivery. There are lots of delivery services that pick up takeout from restaurants and deliver them, and most of them offer gift certificates.
- Transportation — Driving someone around town to doctors’ appointments and therapy sessions can get expensive, especially when gas prices go up. Give him or her a gift card for gas for the car, or for a ride-sharing service. Helping him or her get around town will remove a bit of the burden of movement.
- A night out — A gift certificate for dinner and a movie for him or her and a friend can give a nice night of respite. But don’t just give the gift; offer to take over duties while the caregiver has his or her evening out. They can’t use the gift if they’re stuck at home because nobody is willing to help.
- Pampering — Give a massage, manicure, pedicure, spa visit or whatever you think he or she might enjoy. You can give a gift card (make sure to include a tip), or do it yourself, with that bottle of wine you brought over.
Remembering the hard work your caregiver is doing is essential to helping him or her through this time. They will feel better and thus give better care and have better health — thanks to your considerate gift.