The Cheerful Caregiver

5 Great Gifts for Caregivers

Last updated: Nov 29, 2011

4 different ways of seeing a Christmas present, perspective 4
Image by voxtheory used under the creative commons attribution no derivs license.

Caregivers deserve to receive great gifts "“ not only at the holidays, but all year long: Trinkets that say "thank you," "great job," and "you are loved." That last one is especially important. Family caregivers so freely give their love away that you need to share your love with them in order to replenish their well.

That said, it's true that the holiday season tends to be the time when most gift-giving takes place. And while many types of gifts, such as luxurious bath salts, will warm any caregiver's heart, I've rounded up five things I believe will make a real impact on a caregiver's quality of life.

  1. Totally Together: Shortcuts to an Organized Life by Stephanie O'Dea. This weekly planner goes beyond being a mere calendar. In the first 44 pages, O'Dea shares her "clean less, play more" strategy for maintaining a clean, organized home. The weekly planner pages allow enough room to jot down important appointments and also include a checklist of tasks to be done daily and weekly. The back section of the book contains a rudimentary shopping list and meal planner. I like this little book because it's small enough to fit into a purse (so you can keep it handy at all times) and it keeps things simple. On the minus side, it's geared more toward moms with children at home, and any family caregiver (particularly dementia caregivers) knows O'Dea's "clean it right now" approach doesn't always work. Still, for folks who prefer pen and paper to app and keyboard, Totally Together definitely fills the bill.

  2. Self-Care for Life: Find Joy, Peace, Serenity, Vitality, Sensuality, Abundance, & Enlightenment "“ Each and Every Day by Skye Alexander, Meera Lester, and Carolyn Dean, MD, ND. As you know from reading this blog, I'm all about self-care for caregivers. This book takes a holistic approach to self-care. As the authors say in the introduction: "Self-care isn't something you do once a year at a spa. And it isn't something you do a few times and then drop. It's a commitment you make to yourself each and every day." I couldn't agree more. In 365 pages, Self-Care for Life gives you a daily dose of self-care for mind, body, and soul. Each page provides an inspirational quotation, a theme for the day (such as "Reduce Annoyances") and then offers actionable tips in three categories: Mind, Body, and Spirit. Personally, I find some of the tips and categories a little new-agey for my taste ("Bring harmony to your home with feng shui"), but for the most part I give the authors kudos for including easy, inexpensive ways for family caregivers to make self-care a daily habit.

  3. Just Chill natural stress reliever. Looking for an interesting stocking stuffer for the stressed caregiver on your list? Just Chill is a carbonated beverage I like to call the anti-energy drink. While I'm skeptical about the value of taking supplements on a regular basis, I do think there are situations when a "chill pill" is just what life calls for. I received a complimentary four-pack of Just Chill from the manufacturer and distributed three of the cans to friends, to get some feedback. And, of course, I tried a can myself. All of my friends noted that they felt relaxed about half-an-hour after consuming Just Chill. I noticed this, too. Placebo effect? Maybe. But I didn't give my friends any info in advance about what the produce was (in fact, one of my friends thought Just Chill was an energy drink and expressed disappointment that it didn't rev her up more). Well, for caregivers relaxed is a good thing, so I give Just Chill props for delivering on that claim. I sampled the "Tropical Chill" flavor, and it was fizzy and lemony tasting, with a hint of ginger. One of my friends said the beverage was "too gingery" for her liking, but the rest of us enjoyed it. Just Chill mainly contains vitamins: Bs and C, to be precise. But not in mega quantities, which makes it safe for most people to consume. It carries 50 calories per 8.4 fl oz serving. All in all, the reviews of Just Chill were positive, so I'm recommending it as a pleasant way to de-stress during harried days. It's available in 4-packs at Whole Foods Markets.

  4. The Way of the Happy Woman: Living the Best Year of Your Life by Sara Avant Stover. Here's another book that focuses on self-care. Stover's book takes women back to basics with a plan to recapture harmony in life by living in accordance with the seasons, the way our ancestors did. As you might expect, the meat of the book is divided into four sections based on seasons. Using this organizational strategy, chapters within each season guide you with information and activities to help you reclaim your natural rhythms. The book strongly emphasizes yoga, with long, illustrated sections for each season. This was a turn-off for me because I'm not able to do yoga, but yoga aficionados would love this aspect of the book. Beyond yoga, the book also offers tips (it's cheaper and healthier to buy in-season produce), anecdotes (the author making jam with her sister), and points to ponder (exercises for reflecting on the many moods you experience). For the caregiver who's interested in the seasonal connection to womanhood and reclaiming a natural life balance, The Way of the Happy Woman makes an excellent guide.

  5. Alef Bet by Paula jewelry. What caregiver wouldn't feel cherished when receiving jewelry this holiday season? Alef Bet jeweler Paula creates Judaic and modern jewelry fashioned from sterling silver and fine gold. Yet these pieces are affordable. One appropriate piece for any caregiver, the Tree of Life necklace, crafted of sterling silver with gold plating (in three sizes, starting at $35), speaks to the caring passed from parent to child and back to parent. Alef Bet also creates beautiful Hebraic jewelry for the Jewish caregiver. The Mazel Bendel Bracelet ($50) is said to bring good luck when the string starts to fray. What a great excuse to wear it every day! Paula also crafts custom jewelry for that very special person on your gift list.

So there you have it. Five grand gifts for any family caregiver!

Disclosure: Except for the jewelry, all of these items were provided to me free of charge for review. I've given my honest opinion of each one and have not included any affiliate links to products.