CaringBridge Staff | 03.15.22
Whether a family caregiver is a spouse, child, sibling, relative or a friend, taking care of someone facing a health crisis can be a thankless task. This is especially true if a caregiver is working with someone who has long-term needs.
Thank-you gifts for caregivers don’t have to be expensive or elaborate. As with any gift, it’s the thought that counts. Even small tokens of appreciation can make an impact on caregivers who are dedicated to looking after a person who needs help.
We reached out to our community to discover the best presents they’ve ever given or received. Check out these 8 thoughtful gifts for caregivers:
1. Time Off for Caregivers
The gift of time can be a very meaningful way to show how much you appreciate the time and effort a relative or friend spends on caregiving. What many caregivers want is for time off and for someone else to do the giving. Our community suggested massage gift certificates and a spa trip as a couple different options for some relaxing time away.
However, offering a caregiver some vital “me time” doesn’t have to involve a physical gift, either:
“When my husband and I were taking care of my father, I had a few friends who were willing to come stay with him once in awhile so my husband and I could have quality time together.”
Alexis C. LaMere
“I am the 24/7 caregiver for my husband the past 2 years. Best gift was my kids coming together and helping so I could take a vacation with friends.”
Barbara Pyles Kelly
Once this selfless caregiver escapes their normal routine and gets some time to care for themselves, they can return refreshed and rejuvenated.
2. Caregiver Gift Baskets
Gift baskets of fruit, flowers or pampering bath items will brighten a tired caregiver’s outlook. Fun fact: flowers have been scientifically proven to increase the happiness chemicals in our brain — and flowers can be ordered online and delivered almost anywhere the same day.
Our community shared a few great ideas of what to include in this gift basket:
- Gift cards (Amazon, groceries, house cleaning, gas, favorite restaurants)
- Personalized and unique pillows covers, blankets, puzzles, etc.
- Comfortable clothes
- Self-care items (Lotions, face masks, candles, essential oils)
“A snack basket! As a caregiver for my grand daughter going through a bone marrow transplant, my parents brought me a basket of snacks (a lot of different kinds) and some stationary items. It was great!”
“Tea… aromatherapy… hand and foot lotions… books.”
“I like to give caregivers journals or datebooks to help write out feelings, keep track of appointments, and log what happens when. Everything can become a blur and time passes by for the caregiver, so a journal helps them keep control of the time in a way.”
“I am a quilter/sewer and have made or purchased table runners or a placemat set for a kitchen table. I’ve also given a wreath for a front door (a red, white and blue one can be given to a man) which can be decorative but with artificial flowers in case of allergies.”
Note: When sending flowers, nuts, candy or anything similar, make sure the recipient is not allergic to any of these items.
Everyone’s gotta eat, right? But cooking and planning meals can add mounds of stress to a caregiver’s already hectic life. Bringing over homemade meals, supplying eating utensils and even doing something fun like ordering pizza delivery are all super helpful ways to make your loved one’s days easier. You may also consider treating your caregiver to a dinner at their favorite local restaurant.
“Food! When my daughter was battling cancer I greatly appreciated when her friends or my family brought us meals. I struggled to find time, energy or means to cook. Her friends took turns bring us prepared dishes. It was a Godsend.”
Amy Elizabeth Ax
“My best gift was my stepdaughter making Thanksgiving dinner for us at our place.”
Don’t go through your health journey alone.
You can stay connected to friends and family, plan and coordinate meals, and experience love from any distance.
All of this is ready for you when you start your personal CaringBridge site, which is completely free of charge, ad-free, private and secure. Don’t spend another minute alone!
4. Child Care/Dog Watching
A free gift that will always be a huge help to your loved one: babysitting. Offer to take over childcare or dog-sitting duties for your friend or family member so they can take time to go on a date with their partner, take a workout class, or even use one of their other gifts (like a massage).
A helpful way to schedule this is with our Personal Planner tool which allows people to sign up for childcare, meal sign ups, carpools and more on their loved one’s CaringBridge site.
“Games, books, driving her for where she has to go, buying her supermarket home list, organizing small visit groups to visit her once a week and preparing for her dips and drinks for that visit…”
5. Smiles and Hugs
Several of our respondents mentioned that hugs and smiles offer a sense of comfort (not to mention reducing stress, boosting the immune system, and many other benefits).
“A thank you or a smile is all I need! It’s one of the hardest things! So hard to see a loved one go through tough times with cancer, Alzheimer and or anything!! Love and hugs to everyone that gives there heart and time to someone in need!”
6. Monetary Support
Offering the gift of money may at first not sound like the most “thoughtful” gift, but that’s not true. Caregivers often bear the burden of their loved one’s health care costs, and financial support may be critical at this time.
However, you don’t have to hand over cash to be helpful. You can get creative with this type of support as well:
“When I was taking care of my momma, someone helped pay my car payment for 2 months. It was a blessing.”
Amy Ross Nash
“A group of us just donated to a college friend’s heart and lunge transplant fund.”
Another idea is to ask your loved one where the costs add up the most. For instance, hospital parking can be surprisingly costly – offering to fundraise or help cover specific costs that add up can be enormously helpful – and add some extra thoughtfulness to the gesture.
You can also start a GoFundMe for a caregiver to help cover a broad range of caregiver needs like medical costs, as well as those small daily costs that add up over time like groceries, childcare, home improvement, and more. To do this, you can connect your GoFundMe to a CaringBridge site. This is a great way to help a caregiver’s loved ones and support network become more involved.
You can create a fundraiser tailored to your caregiver’s needs. Whether it be raising money for a month’s worth of food, a self-care weekend, or to help cover the cost of their child’s college tuition, this is a thoughtful way to give back to a caregiver.
7. Quality Time
Reach out. Be there. Show up. Caregivers need someone to check on them and offer a few kind words or a funny story. They often make their care recipient their #1 priority – caretakers deserve to be made a priority too.
“The gift of time from loved ones is the greatest gift of all.”
“On the last year she cared fr me I surprised her on her birthday and gave her a guardian angel and a heart bracelet to measure her heart rate etc, which surprised her and since she was coming to put me in bed because I couldn’t walk due to hip surgery when I felt better and could travel, I treated her to breakfast numerous times. I know it was not enough but I gave what I could because I knew it would make her happy.”
“A friend of mine sat with me one afternoon while I was taking care of my mother-in-law. We were all looking at mail-order catalogs. She got us interested by asking questions like, “what would you pick on THIS page?” She did that on various pages. A few days later she stopped by the house and dropped off 2 or 3 items we unknowingly ‘picked out!'”
“Caregiving is about more than meeting someone’s physical needs. It about being able to create a bond with those in need doing the works of the lord encouraging them with love and undivided attention.”
Whether this looks like a comedy movie night in with ice cream or a long chat on the phone, the time you offer your loved one will show them how much you appreciate all their hard work.
Knowing that the people closest to you are thinking of you and sending you good vibes even when you’re not together is a great comfort for many caregivers.
“As a caregiver, I was given a prayer shawl… anything sentimental that leaves you with memories is great.”
9. Caregiver Support Groups
Caregivers carry a lot on their shoulders, and they may need help taking some of that weight off. If they are interested, you may help your caregiver find a local support group. These support groups are designed to support caregivers in any capacity. Sometimes all a caretaker needs is a shoulder to lean on, and you may be able help them find that assistance.
“Host a CareGivers’ Support Group…Our church offers a monthly support gathering for CGs — during one of the Sunday morning times slots. It’s a time to share w/others who truly understand – laugh, cry, and pray together. The church gives a small budget so the host can give them gifts from time to time. She also helps them focus on a theme for the year, with handouts, etc.”
10. A Handwritten Note
The best gifts for caregivers are those that come from the heart. Express your gratitude with a homemade, hand-written letter for your caregiver. When thanking someone for their support, remember to be as specific as possible. You may tell a story of your favorite memory you’ve shared with them. You may also thank them for being there for your family in a time of need.
“During my husband’s cancer journey, our dear friend sends us encouraging cards each week. She includes scriptures full of God’s love and assurances that He is always with us. This kindness is at the top of our blessings and proves a friend’s thoughtfulness can be the best gift in these challenging times.”
What Are Your Best Caregiver Gift Ideas?
Have you ever given a caregiver gift that was a big hit with the recipient (or received something amazing)? Please share it with our readers to give them inspiration!