Caregivers make the world go ‘round. For chronic pain patients, caregivers vastly improve the quality of their lives, from simple things like running errands to more involved tasks when the pain flares up. But caregivers are in a dangerous occupation. The estimated 44 million caregivers offering unpaid help to a family member or friend are at risk for serious health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and physical strain and sprain. Some numbers:
- Between 40 and 70% of caregivers show signs of clinically significant depression
- Caregivers report higher levels of stress, sustained over the long term, than non-caregivers
- Female caregivers make up 2/3 of all caregivers and suffer higher levels of depression and anxiety than male caregivers
- Caregivers are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than non-caregivers
Physically, caregivers are less likely to practice preventative health care and more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease. They routinely ignore their own health needs (including filling prescriptions) due to the cost of caregiving.
While these selfless actions are a mark of someone who could be an amazing caregiver, they are also dangerous and unsustainable. Whether your caregiver is a family member, a good friend, or a healthcare provider, take some time this holiday season to show them just how much they mean to you with the perfect gift. These simple gift suggestions can help refresh, renew, and reinvigorate your caregiver, providing stress-relief and self-care they may be lacking.
The last thing you want to do when looking for a gift for your caregiver is add stress, either to your day or theirs. A thoughtful gift is always welcome, so do the best you can, when you can, and know that it will be enough.
If money is an issue but you really want to give your caregiver a gift, write a heartfelt note, thanking them for everything they do, and include it with a framed photo of you two. The frame needn’t be fancy. If you are crafty, you can get a plain frame and decorate it. It’s more about the gratitude and appreciation.
Care for them
Gifts that pamper the caregiver can be some of the most welcome. In caring for someone else, they often neglect their own health and well-being and in the process may become injured or ill. Give back with a massage, facial, or other bodywork. Acupuncture is a great way to offer stress relief.
Alternately, schedule some respite care and send your caregiver away for the day or the weekend. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Travel sites may have off-season package deals, or local establishments may run “stay-cation” specials. If sending your caregiver out of town just isn’t in the budget, look for hometown deals on sites like Living Social and Groupon. Send your caregiver to a museum, a movie, a show, or a dinner out. The goal is to give your caregiver time away from their responsibilities, without guilt and without worry.
Give year ‘round
______ of the month clubs are a great way to remind your caregiver to care for themselves, at least once a month, all year ‘round. Clubs Galore’s Home & Spa options help you build your own personalized gift that can include dinner out one month, a massage another, and bath salts and aromatherapy the next.
Your caregiver needs to take time to do things they love. In the same spirit of ____ of the Month clubs, sign your caregiver up for a class in their favorite hobby (e.g., baking, rock climbing, or yoga) or purchase a membership to a museum, golf course, or other activity. Sometimes a few hours away from the realities of caregiving can be just the thing they need.
Plan ahead for next year
Especially if money is a consideration, plan ahead for next year in the weeks after the holidays. Stock up on spa kits, candles, frames, and other non-perishable gifts for next year when prices are slashed to clear out the shelves. Thinking ahead and shopping when you are feeling good is a great way to plan for next year’s gifts (plus save a little money!).
Other ways to give a gift to your caregiver without actually giving a physical gift include:
- Cooking for them: Cooking for your caregiver is a great way to show your gratitude. The meal needn’t be complicated. In fact, you can let your crockpot do most of the work. If your caregiver does not live with you, give them a “coupon” for a meal you will make. Make the date for the meal itself flexible so that it doesn’t become just another thing to do for your caregiver.
- Give them time: In the spirit of respite care, give your caregiver a day off, with pay (when applicable). This day off can be welcome around the holidays, especially if your caregiver is preparing for the holidays for a family of their own. A day off during the week to sleep in, run their own errands, and do their own shopping can be much appreciated.
- Say thank you: This seems obvious, but often over a period of time we can take our caregiver for granted. This is human nature. When something is always present, we expect it to be so. Make a concerted effort to recognize and appreciate all of the ways in which your caregiver makes your life easier and better. When life gets hectic and seems to be running at an accelerated pace (as happens during the holidays sometimes) slow down and say thank you.
If you are a caregiver, what is the best gift you have received? What would you add to these suggestions?