Too little time and too much stress are two constants in a caregiver’s life, and gifts that make their hectic days a little easier are always welcome. So whether there is a caregiver on your list, or you’re looking for some hints to drop to Santa, here are some of our favorites:
Who doesn’t love gift certificates?
Around the holidays, there are dozens of gift card options. How about narrowing it down to much needed services, like house cleaning, groceries, landscaping or snow removal, laundry, transportation, or even meal prep and delivery. Hint: If you live nearby, home-made coupons are a great option—and be sure to offer reminders if they go unused.
A night out
Tickets to a movie, play, or concert can provide a nice jolt of energy, and why not throw in dinner? Don’t forget to arrange for respite services, too.
For the entertainment minded
A subscription to Netflix or Hulu, or DVR service such as TiVo lets your caregiver watch favorite shows or movies when convenient. Did you see a movie that made you laugh out loud this year? Buy the DVD for a favorite caregiver—a couple of hours of good fun at the end of the day is priceless.
For someone a little more bookish, consider a tablet with a book app or an e-reader like a Nook or Kindle loaded with a few books on his or her reading list. A high-contrast tablet limits eye strain under light or dark conditions, perfect for someone who spends many hours sitting bedside.
A caregiving primer
New caregivers are often overwhelmed by what they don’t know. A book about caregiving or about their loved one’s condition can provide information and reassurance. Three suggestions:
• When Someone You Love Has a Chronic Illness
• The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer’s Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss
• Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence
Find a licensed massage therapist who can come to the home. Rather than one 60- or 90-minute massage, ask the therapist if shorter treatments are available—this might inspire the caregiver to make it part of his or her routine.
A New Year’s jump start
Exercise is a great way to relieve stress. How about a few sessions with a personal trainer or a fitness club membership? Remember that trial memberships often run for a period of time which may not work with a caregiver’s schedule, so ask about one based on number of visits. For those who prefer to work out at home, the Wii Fit with Meter takes advantage of Nintendo’s popular game system. Fitbit can help to stay on track and monitor goals and progress, and HoldTight keeps phone and necessities—ID, credit card, cash, even headphones—together for runners (or anyone who doesn’t want to carry a wallet or purse), plus it’s customizable.
Caregiving often comes with financial stress. Gifts related to a passion or hobby—a set of spices or beautiful utensils for a cook, a skein of cashmere for a knitter or crocheter, sterling silver fittings for someone who makes jewelry—are always welcome. Other ideas:
• A personalized wristwatch—simply upload a photo, then match it to a band for a one-of-a-kind gift
• Touchscreen gloves, to check email and Facebook without risking frostbitten fingers
Treats that feel good
Send a batch of cookies from Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, which funds pediatric cancer research, or put together a soothing sampling of de-stressing teas. Gift sets of hand cream and hand soap from Caldrea, or a trio of scented hand creams from Neal’s Yard Remedies, can keep oft-washed hands from becoming dry.