Last week I discussed appropriate, meaningful gifts for someone with dementia, so this week I want to focus on the caregivers. In 2013, it was reported that roughly 15 and a half million people were providing personal care for someone with Alzheimer’s/dementia. Anyone who knows a personal caregiver also knows how hard they work and how much time they devote to the person they are caring for. These are two very important things one should keep in mind when searching for that “perfect” gift and may require some creativity on your part.
It’s safe to say that most, if not all, caregivers will tell you there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything that needs to be done. This usually leads to the caregiver not tending to their own needs or health. Though it may sound cliche, giving the gift of time can be one of the most thoughtful gifts you could give a caregiver. This is where creativity comes into play, giving you the opportunity to personalize a non-traditional gift. Of course, having a personal connection with the caregiver, you will have a basic understanding of what their days are like what they may be missing or sacrificing. Perhaps you could offer to provide care yourself, if you are able and the person being cared for is comfortable with it. This may be for a day or two each week or month or even a few hours here and there. Obviously, if you do not live near or are physically unable to provide care yourself, pay for adult care services for a specified time. Maybe organize a long weekend for the caregiver and arrange for care for 3 days. You will know what will work best in their situation. Perhaps you could hire an in-home caregiver to stop in once a week or twice a month to give the day to day caregiver a needed day off. Granted, these options are not cheap and will be above budgets for most people. This is an opportunity for others to chip in and help. Maybe one child is taking care of a parent with Alzheimer’s on their own. This could be due to a number of factors, such as proximity, employment, experience, etc….regardless, this is a great way for the other siblings to make things easier for the caregiver and show their appreciation and concern for their well being also.
Another great gift idea is arranging services or running errands for the caregiver:
- Grocery delivery
- Laundry pick up/drop off service
- House cleaning
- Lawn care service
Of course, if you or others are able, these are all daily errands that you could even do yourself. Anything to alleviate some of the pressures of the caregiver.
If you are looking for more of a conventional gift, focus on the caregivers likes, hobbies and personal needs. Gift baskets with their favorite treats, gift cards to their favorite restaurants or theaters are wonderful choices. Some may scoff at the idea of gift cards as being impersonal or lacking thought, but keep in mind that as a caregiver, they have most likely stopped doing what they enjoy doing, due to lack of time and even money. Most caregivers absorb the various care costs, paying out of their own pocket. Even if they find themselves with some free time, they don’t have the money to do what they would like. A gift card is better than money or a check, because it forces them to actually spend the time doing what they enjoy. More than likely, they would just spend a cash gift paying a bill, be it for themselves or the person they care for. If you are wanting something more decadent, perhaps you could arrange for a massage or spa day for the caregiver.
Of course, practical gifts become thoughtful gifts in this situation. Nice, warm socks or gloves may not sound exciting, but for someone who may feel guilty for spending any money on themselves, the little comforts can become quite important. Even a well made, comfortable pair of shoes can be a blessing for someone on their feet all day. It may be tempting to want to get them something flashy and fancy, thinking “they deserve this!” However, it can easily end up unused, sitting there as a reminder of what they may be missing out on. Focusing on their current lifestyle will lead you to giving a gift they can truly appreciate and one that you feel good about giving.