The Best Holiday Gift for Caregivers

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Dr. James D. Huysman

Caregiving Tips /

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"The best gifts one can give to someone are not things; the best ones to offer are a little Time, Love, Care and Respect." - Venkat Desireddy         

With the holidays upon us, this year why not carry forward the notion of Respite, the focus of this year’s National Family Caregivers Month for the caregivers in your life?

Caregivers give the best gift every day of the year…they give themselves (whether they want to or not).  The Caregiver Action Network breaks the word R-E-S-P-I-T-E down like this:

R     is for “Rest and Relaxation”

E     as in “Energize”  

S     as in “Sleep 

   is for “Programs that can help you”     

I      as in “Imagination”   

    as in “Take Five” ...better yet, take ten! 

E     is for “Exhale”

Respite is one of the most often requested support services.  It is the key to a caregiver’s well-being. Respite time protects their health, strengthens family relationships, prevents burn-out and allows their loved one to stay at home up to three times longer. For complete information go to:                                                                         

With this in mind, consider the following:

Holiday card with a certificate for a mani/pedi, massage, facial, or other “luxury” treatment and offer to watch care recipient so that the caregiver can take the time to be pampered.  Want to up the ante?  Make it a weekly or monthly gift!

  1. A 500 or 1000 piece puzzle and weekly “date” to work on and spend time together.  The caregiver can then work on the puzzle in between, whenever they need a break.
  2. Coloring books:  YES - coloring books - with pencils/markers provide a great outlet for relaxation and there are many now available especially for adults.  Paint-by-number items can also provide a relaxing project in which a caregiver can spend some creative time.
  3. Gift of coupons for “Dinner Every (Pick a day of the week)”.  You might offer a choice of entrée for each “Week of ___________ Coupon” for a month (or more!)
  4. A flashdrive, ipod or downloadable file of guided meditations, music, inspirational messages and the like with headphones.
  5. Use your imagination!  A specific offer is better than asking “How can I help you?” or “What can I do?” because most caregivers are overwhelmed with making decisions and many honestly don’t really know what to ask for or how to answer such questions. 

Caregiving doesn’t take a holiday; it takes the best and most of what a caregiver has to offer.  Respite is a gift that gives back.  Contributing to the health and wellbeing of a caregiver is an investment in love, friendship and the best part of being human.

If you’ve lost touch with a friend or group because of caregiving (yours or theirs) the gift of re-engagement may be just the thing to brighten not only your holidays, but All your days.

About The Author
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James D “Dr. Jamie” Huysman, PsyD, LCSW is well-known for his work fiercely advocating on behalf of family and professional caregivers. From running a national caregiver support foundation, contributing to the AARP Foundation/NASW’s collective “New Guidelines for Caregivers of Older Adults” and co-authoring “Take Your Oxygen First”, to his expert videos on Caregiver Connections for UHC TV, he is a champion of behavioral health and a patient-centered medical culture that is prepared to meet the needs of those they serve.  A popular speaker, he works as VP of Provider Relations and Government Affairs for WellMed Medical Management.

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