Eight Caregiver Gifts that Cost Little But Make an Impact

Show Your Immense Gratitude

It can be complicated to say thank you to caregivers who see your senior at their most vulnerable, possibly even at their worst whether in an assisted living facility, nursing home or at home. 

They carry on with diligent care despite the circumstances or challenges.
They do what you cannot.
They are helping you honor your senior through this season.
They give so much!
How can you thank them?

Whether your senior lives in an assisted living facility, a nursing home, a small adult family home or is at home with care help, I have several thoughtful gift ideas for you to give your senior’s caregivers.

Three group gift ideas
Some assisted living facilities or nursing homes have a policy that prevents individual staff members from accepting personal gifts. However, you can give a gift to the staff as a whole. If that’s your situation, consider these group gift ideas. (Packaged separately, each of these gifts provides minimal contact.)

  1. For about $23 you can send a box of 20 healthy snacks 
  2. A beautifully packaged box of pears from Harry & David is a stylish surprise
  3. One dozen holiday bakery cupcakes (packaged separately) would be a fun treat 

Five individual gift ideas
For smaller facilities, like adult family homes or individual caregivers, you have more options:

  1. A candle and a handwritten note that says: “What you do matters, thank you!”
  2. Some fun, nurse-themed socks.
  3. A card & little, framed poem that says thank you.
  4. A coupon to a food delivery service like Uber Eats or Grubhub would allow them to have a meal without having to cook or go out to pick it up.
  5. A gift card to a coffee/tea shop would surely be put to good use!

Find other gift ideas by reading Seven Fun Gift Ideas for the Senior Who Doesn’t Need Anything. Whatever you do, the most impactful gift is likely going to be the note you add expressing your heartfelt gratitude and appreciation. Be more than generous with your words; they will soak in and encourage your caregiver in the sweetest of ways.

May you find joy in loving one another well.

Impatient with Repeated Questions? 7 Strategies to Respond with Patience

“What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to do now?”

Being repeatedly asked the same question by anyone, whether they are 2 or 70, is frustrating. When it means they are fading cognitively, feelings of grief get mixed into the dynamic. 

How can you respond and save your own sanity? Here are 7 practical tips:

  1. Give yourself permission to be sad about your senior’s mental decline and mourn the fact that they are no longer who they once were. It’s okay to be sad about that. It’s normal and actually loving. 
  2. Remember that your senior is asking repeated questions because of damage to their brain cells, whether it’s because of a stroke, a form of dementia, a traumatic brain injury or something else they are now cognitively disabled. They wouldn’t choose to be confused and aren’t trying to annoy you. 
  3. Look for a reason behind the questions. Are they trying to communicate something else altogether? Does the behavior happen at a particular time of the day or around particular people?
  4. Think about how they are feeling, not what they are doing or saying and respond to their emotion, not their behavior.
  5. Refocus their energy on a new activity, even if it’s just a fidget type gadget that keeps their hands busy. 
  6. When responding to them, do your best to keep your voice calm and don’t try to argue or use logic. The latter response will likely escalate their confusion by adding anxiety.
  7. Restate what they are saying and answer their question as best you can with simple explanations. Consider using visual tools like calendars, clocks or photographs to help them remember. 

This video from UCLA Health offers insights and practical tips for managing repetitive questions.

May you find joy in loving one another well.

Elizabeth Dameron-Drew is the co-founder of Ways & Wane. She walked closely with her own father through his years of waning. She lives near Seattle, Washington with her two teenage sons, husband and two rescue dogs. When she’s not working on this platform she’s probably creating books, sewing, or vacuuming, or cooking while listening to the rain and thinking about her next creative endeavor. 

Veteran? Get Paid or Get Money for Caring

elderly veteran One of our GoKit users found the perfect assisted living facility in Florida for her father. Although at over $4,000 per month, the payments were quite a burden. After a few months, she discovered that her father was eligible for a VA housing benefit of $2,000/month, which was retroactive to the time he moved in. While not every veteran is eligible for this benefit, the VA caregiver program expanded on October 1, 2020 to offer more services.

Veteran’s Affairs offers two levels of support for caregivers: a general program available to all veterans and their families and a more comprehensive program with more strict criteria. The VA trains regional Caregiver Support Coordinators to help you understand which program addresses your situation at no charge.

The Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS) provides resources, education and support to caregivers of Veterans. The Veteran does not need to have a service-connected condition, for which the caregiver is needed, and may have served during any era. No formal application is required.

While the General program offers a range of supportive services, my favorite is the FREE caregiver coaching. You receive four individual sessions over the course of 2-3 months. The coach will provide you with a workbook and help you with a variety of issues caregivers face. They will coach you in stress management, problem solving, self-care and healthy behaviors, as well as, Veteran safety, behaviors, problems or concerns linked to a diagnosis. Your assigned coach will call you for a total of four sessions, over a two to three-month period.  Learn more about the REACH VA Program. Ask your Caregiver Support Coordinator about it.

The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) is for eligible Veterans who have incurred a serious injury in the line of duty on or before May 7, 1975 or on or after September 11, 2001. This program provides resources, education, support, a financial stipend, and health insurance (if eligible), beneficiary travel (if eligible), to caregivers of eligible Veterans.

If you are the primary caregiver, you may receive:
A monthly stipend (paid directly to you as the caregiver.)
Access to health care insurance through Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA), if you do not already have health insurance.
Mental health counseling.
Certain beneficiary travel benefits when traveling with the Veteran to appointments. Note for specific details, speak to your Caregiver Support Coordinator.
At least 30 days of respite care per year, for the Veteran. Respite is short term relief for someone else to care for the Veteran while you take a break.
If you are the secondary caregiver, you may receive:
– Mental health counseling.
– Certain beneficiary travel benefits when traveling with the Veteran to appointments. Note for specific details, speak to your Caregiver Support Coordinator.
– At least 30 days of respite care, per year for the Veteran. Respite is short term relief for someone else to care for the Veteran while you take a break.
To enroll or find out which programs your senior qualifies for, find a Caregiver Support Coordinator in your area.

Be sure to check the VA Caregiver Support Hotline for updates or subscribe to receive email updates and information about VA Caregiver Support Program services.

The VA Caregiver Services may help you love your senior well!