The holidays, for the most part, are over. Some people keep their Christmas trees or Menorahs up until February, sure, but the calendar doesn’t lie. You’ve given out gifts to the people in your life: children and friends, spouses and partners, and your aging loved ones. But at the end of every holiday, we’re often left with a nagging worry—did we show our gratitude and appreciation to everyone we meant to?
That’s understandable; there are a lot of people in our lives. But one person who stands out may be the professional caretaker that watches over, takes care of, and provides genuine friendship and companionship for your aging loved one.
The good news is, it’s not too late. Appreciation doesn’t have to be confined to December. A show of gratitude is always welcome. Caregivers are everyday people with demanding, stressful jobs that can be a true emotional burden—but they continually rise to the challenge. Giving them a gift that shows you recognize their work, and recognize what they do for your family, is a great and good thing. Here are gift ideas to brighten the day of your loved one’s selfless caregiver.
Paying Tribute to Caregivers
Being a caregiver is an emotionally challenging job. They have an enormous responsibility, which is why we’re so diligent in hiring the right one in the first place. Besides being responsible and dependable, they have to have emotional intelligence. The role is to bond with someone, and really get to know them, with the understanding that at some point it will be time to say goodbye. As loved ones, we understandably don’t always recognize their grief and their pain in the midst of ours. That’s why we feel it’s especially important to acknowledge their deep connection to our loved ones now, and at any time during the new year ahead.
We’ve shared our tips for gifting your loved one’s caregiver: make it personal, something they are interested in, value them as a person. Don’t make it job-related, but a loving reminder of the bond they share with your loved one. Of course, some gifts are universal, and universally appreciated, which is why our list has a mix of ideas and inspirations. The key is to make sure that the gift feels like one of deep appreciation, and not obligation. In a way, caregivers are a part of your family. It’s always kind to treat them as such.
Gift Ideas For Your Aging Loved One’s Caregiver
Here are our favorite gift ideas to inspire you in your own gifting:
- A massage: Like we said, some gifts are universal. Nearly everyone loves getting a massage, and they’re especially calming for anyone with a stressful job. A massage can be a standalone gift, or part of a full spa day wrapped up in seaweed, mud, and acupuncture. There are many spas and massage parlors in the Bay Area, so make sure you find one that’s easily accessible for your caregiver. Remember, it’s their day to bask in relaxation—don’t make it hard to get to.
- A gift card to their favorite restaurant: Chances are, food has come up at some point or another in your conversations. If not—ask. You can do it bluntly or it can come up organically, but remember, you’re getting them something they like, not a visit to your favorite eatery. Of course, if they’re a foodie, you can send them on an adventure to a new, local hotspot. But that’s the point: do it for them, as a reflection of their tastes and desires. Not only is this a nice gift, but it’s also a recognition that they deserve a night to themselves, where they can relax with family or friends and have a great meal, worrying about nothing more stressful than picking the right wine pairing.
- A framed photo: Obviously, this has to be planned in advance by taking pictures, but a lot of caregivers appreciate getting a beautifully framed photo of themselves with the aging adult they care for. After all, your loved one is a big part of their caregiver’s life, and this is a nice reminder of it. It’s a way of saying, “The two of you have a bond, and it’s something we all treasure.”
- Something hobby related: Find out what calms your caregiver in their downtime, and get them something related to that. Knitting? Get them yarn and needles. Reading Mother Jones? Get them a subscription. Cooking? A nice set of knives. Make it about what they do for themselves when they aren’t being a caregiver to your loved one or theirs.
- A “gift of the month” club: There’s a monthly gift club for everything now. If your caregiver likes wine, you can send them a bottle every month. BBQ sauce? Same. Socks? You got it. The great thing about this is that it’s a rolling way to show your appreciations. Every month, they’ll remember that they’re doing good and important work and that it’s being recognized each time that package is dropped on their doorstep.
- Premade meals: Of course, you can also do something that makes their job easier. Preparing meals in advance that they just have to heat up is one way. You could send a GrubHub gift card, so that if they decide, “You know what—let’s go for burgers,” it can be done on your dime, not theirs. This might not be very personal, but it’s a nice way to show that you understand how hard their job is, and that you want them to enjoy the time they spend with your loved one.
At the end of the day, that’s what all gift-giving is. It’s about showing someone that you actually care about them, and that you recognize them as a person; that you appreciate them for who they are, and what they do day after day. For a caregiver, that’s extremely important.
Caregivers are an adjunct to people’s worst moments and a companion for the best. They bring light and comfort to difficult days. They help whole families cope with the sometimes difficult realities of aging. Giving them a gift that shows you genuinely care is a reminder that you recognize their importance, recognize their challenges, and see them as an individual, a person. That’s what we all crave. And it doesn’t have to be December to gift it.
At Institute on Aging, our programs help older adults, their families, and caregivers find the joy and dignity of aging by dealing honestly with the challenges, but also the adventures. Connect with us today to learn more about our programs.