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By Mary Brintnall-Peterson, Ph.D.

The holiday season is here, and everyone is busy shopping and getting ready for the holidays. A big part of the season is giving and receiving gifts. Gifts come in all shapes and sizes and there is a trend toward giving more than materialistic items. I’ve thought about possible gifts that caregivers could ask for or what friends and family could do to support the caregiver in their life. My suggestions include some specific items but also giving the gift of time and assistance to the caregiver.

6 Christmas Gift Suggestions for Your Caregiver

  1. Provide overnight respite care. This would be especially helpful to a caregiver who lives with the care receiver. An individual could be hired, or a family member could spend the night and be responsible for caring for an entire evening and night. This would allow the caregiver to have time for themselves, plus be able to get a good night’s sleep.
  2. Give the gift of time. Caregivers need time to rejuvenate themselves. Research shows that caregivers are more energized by doing something they want versus something they have to do such as chores, running errands, etc.
  3. Volunteer to take the care receiver to appointments or outings such as getting a haircut, shopping for clothes, visiting friends, going to church, or taking them to doctor visits. This not only gives the caregiver a break but educates other family members about the health of the care receiver. If they go to a medical appointment, they can ask questions and see firsthand how the care receiver acts when not at home.
  4. Recognize and show appreciation for the caregiver who has assumed the primary caregiver role, responsibilities, and tasks. This may seem trivial, but everyone needs to know their efforts are acknowledged and valued.
  5. Get something for the caregiver that they wouldn’t purchase for themselves. This could be a book from a favorite author, a new outfit, a special type of food, or another treat for them. If the item is something for them to do, such as reading a book, include hours of respite so they will have time to read it.
  6. Purchase technology or equipment that would make caregiving easier. This could include a home monitoring system that alerts the caregiver if the care receiver has fallen or needs assistance. A pill dispensing machine, to ensure the care receiver is getting the correct medication at the right time. A handicap-accessible shower or bath with handheld shower faucets and even a bench so that the care receiver can shower without assistance.

Maybe these items will trigger other ideas of gifts for the caregiver as I’ve only provided a few suggestions. These suggestions will make the caregiver’s life a little brighter and let them know how much you appreciate the care they provide for your loved one. Ultimately, they will help the caregiver take care of themselves, which is essential, enabling the caregiver to continue to provide care.