The holidays are a time to express gratitude for those in our lives, and caregivers are an important group to recognize and celebrate.
These individuals give so much of themselves every day to ensure their aging loved ones are cared for and supported. And while caregivers serve in a role that calls for putting the needs of others before their own, the holiday season offers an opportunity to let them know you are thinking of them and appreciate the remarkable work they do.
“Many caregivers find reward in helping their loved ones, doing so with compassion and joy. But caregiving is an extremely demanding role,” said Lakelyn Hogan Eichenberger, Ph.D., gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead. “While every day is an opportunity to celebrate them, the holidays are a great reminder to recognize their hard work by showing them support and appreciation in return.”
According to AARP, an estimated 53 million Americans are providing unpaid care for relatives and friends – 61% of whom also juggle outside employment. Furthermore, family caregivers provide an average of 23.7 hours of care each week. This number goes up substantially for those whose care recipients live with them (37.4 hours per week), making caregiving the equivalent to a full-time job.
Many caregivers aren’t looking for big, expensive gifts. They are generous givers – of their time, energy and love – which is what makes their role all the more meaningful. A small gift or act of kindness can go a long way in making a caregiver feel appreciated.
We polled family caregivers to learn which gifts they would truly appreciate.
The 4 Most Requested Gifts for Family Caregivers
Time for Themselves. The gift of time and support with caregiving tasks, whether for an afternoon or a few days, are among the things caregivers want most. This gives caregivers a moment to rest, recharge and focus on their own health – because when a caregiver’s needs are met, the care recipient will benefit as well. The temporary support of a professional caregiver may be a great way to help a family caregiver find that much-needed time off. A more formal arrangement such as respite care can be another solution to helping caregivers.
Gift cards and subscription services. Treat a caregiver to the things they enjoy with a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, store, coffee shop or spa. Paying for meal delivery services or a streaming platform can also offer caregivers a chance to wind down and practice self-care.
Acts of service. Sometimes the act of lending a helping hand is the best gift. Whether it’s loading up the fridge with home-cooked meals or offering to clean up around the house or yard, small acts of service can be a huge help in making caregivers’ lives easier and manageable.
Recognition. The pressures of caregiving can leave many feeling stressed out and underappreciated. Small gifts like handwritten cards from family members, friends or care recipients can go a long way in showing caregivers you are thankful for all that they do. Couple this with a fresh bouquet of flowers to truly brighten their day.
As you plan your holiday shopping this season, remember to include caregivers on your list. Celebrating family caregivers and offering support is something you can do now and year-round to make a meaningful impact on your loved ones.
For more holiday shopping ideas, spend some time with our Holiday Gift Guide for older adults.