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Taking Care Of The Caregivers At The Holidays

By Julie Halm

Rachael Young, clinical facilitator for the Wilson Support Center and Hospice Bereavement Center

Day in and day out, caregivers give the gifts of their time, their attention, their energy and their emotions to those who they look after and support.

Whether it’s a major holiday or just another Tuesday, caregivers are constantly giving of themselves. So, when the holidays come around, what is an appropriate gift to give those who offer up so much of themselves?

Rachael Young, clinical facilitator for the Wilson Support Center and Hospice Bereavement Center, said that often, practical types of gifts are the best fit in these situations, as well as those that include offering up some time of one’s own.

“I feel like a nice, thoughtful gift would be to offer some sort of practical assistance,” said Young. “Like somebody could create a coupon book of some sort, with hands-on practical gifts of sharing your time.”

Coupons, she said, might include things like helping to decorate the caregiver’s home for the holidays, coming over to help prepare a meal, doing grocery shopping, other errands or helping to clean their home.

Young noted that those who act as caregivers for family members or other loved ones do so out of a place of love and compassion, but that taking on such a huge responsibility can also come with real restraints on their time to dedicate to other areas of their lives.

“I feel like the caregivers, they are caring for their loved one because they’re honoring them and they love them and they don’t think of it as a burden,” she said. “That being said, there’s the flip side of, it’s just the practical amount of time that you have in a day to do those other things that you still have to do when you’re caring for someone.”

This is where those who love a caregiver can step in and offer gifts that can lighten their load, especially during the holiday season which can be a particularly hectic time of year.

“Maybe you can offer to baby-sit or take care of the people in the home so that they can go out and do their holiday shopping,” Young said. “Or offering to do some other kind of errand, offering to do their holiday shopping or even their holiday wrapping.”

Simple companionship, she said, can also be a gift with a great impact.

“Caregiving is such a beautiful thing that we can do for the people we love and when you’re in the midst of it, you’re doing it out of love,” she said. “But it is a lot and to step in and offer practical gifts or companionship or even the things they want to do themselves, you could offer to do it by their side.”

While gifts of time and assistance can be of immense value to caregivers, those who want to have something to wrap and present have some great options as well, according to Young. For example, she said, creating ready-made meal kits that don’t require a lot of work on the recipient’s end to prepare when they need them can lessen their load. Gift cards can also come in very handy, especially for things like food or grocery delivery.

Another option is a self-care basket or bag with things like essential oils, to-go coffee mugs or a scalp massager can be sweet and useful gifts for caregivers.

Whatever gift one might consider giving a caregiver this holiday season, Young said the important thing is that it is an act of love within a greater context of loving relationships.

“I think the most important thing to know [about caregiving] is that it’s out of love and they take their role to heart,” she said. “To show them the reflection of that love buy offering thoughtful gifts is a way to show your love.”