We're so grateful to Beverly Nelson of StandUpForCaregivers.org for writing this great guest post for us!
On average, unpaid caregivers spend 24.4 hours a week caring for their friend or family member, according to a 2015 AARP report. And nearly a quarter of the 43.5 million U.S. adults providing unpaid care log 41 or more hours each week. So it’s no wonder caregivers commonly cite stress, anxiety, and fatigue among their own top health concerns.
Considering the fact caregiving duties take up as many hours as a part-time or even full-time job for many unpaid providers, it’s often extremely difficult for them to prioritize self-care. But thoughtful gifts can help make their lives a little easier and even encourage them to indulge in a little “me time.” Here are a few gift suggestions for the deserving caregivers on your list.
1. Meal-Delivery Kits
Caregivers commonly report practicing poor eating habits, which is no surprise considering the time and effort many of them must spend shopping and cooking for the loved one in their care. But meal-delivery kits can help get them in the kitchen. The services handle the planning and shopping steps before delivering cooking instructions and ingredients directly to the recipient's door. And the portions are even pre-measured to streamline the cooking process.
There are a number of different options when it comes to meal-delivery kits, so it makes sense to read reviews and consider factors including your gift recipient's experience level in the kitchen and dietary preferences when selecting the best service.
2. Adult Coloring Books
While caregiving can sometimes be punctuated with periods of extremely physically demanding activity, it’s often dominated by substantial stretches of downtime when caregivers may be spending hours in a doctor’s waiting room or homebound along with the person in their care.
For those times, adult coloring books can be the perfect relaxing respite. Experts say coloring can reduce anxiety and increase focus on the moment at hand. While there’s not a lot of detailed research on the topic, at least one study has shown that coloring mandalas—round frames with geometric patterns inside—acted as an anxiety reducer while free-form doodling did not have the same effect. Similarly, experts indicate the precision provided by colored pencils, as opposed to crayons, helped hone practitioners’ focus more fully, according to CNN.
Scientists surmise that coloring an intricate pattern requires just enough attention to divert the brain from daily difficulties and allow it to relax in much the same way as a meditation session might. The fact that coloring has stress-free stakes also helps hobbyists relax, because as an adult, no one cares if you color outside the lines. And, given the black-and-white openness offered by many adult coloring books, there are no “right” or “wrong” color combinations.
3. Stage a Slumber Party
If the caregiver on your holiday shopping list is a family member or close friend, you might even suggest an adult slumber party of sorts. Offer to keep the caregiver and the loved one company for the night.
Start by making a meal together using a recipe and ingredients from a meal-delivery kit and launch an after-dinner mandala coloring marathon. Try starting without any distractions from the television or radio and go to bed without using your smartphones. Why? Studies show trading in a digital device for an adult coloring book could also help amateur artists get a better night’s sleep because they aren’t exposing their eyes to the blue light emitted by electronic devices.
Finally, give the caregiver the gift of sleeping in the next morning by offering to wake up early to help with the loved one’s needs. While one night of relaxation won’t wash away all worries, it might emphasize the importance of self-care to even the most time-crunched caregiver.
Regardless of whether you give these gifts as part of an adult sleepover, they will be small tokens of just how much you appreciate the caregiver on your holiday shopping list. And they’ll offer the person an opportunity to relax and unwind by doing something to take care of his or her own well-being for a change.
All content posted to this blog © 2017 Inspire Santé, NFP