Did you know there are more than 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers? Their voluntary and uncompensated care provides $14 billion in service for wounded warriors each year. Most programs focus on the care recipient not the caregiver. (Source: RAND Corporation – Hidden Heroes, America’s Military Caregivers). They experience much stress as they support their loved ones. It is important as these families transition out of the military that we don’t lose touch with them. Even from afar there are things you can do to support and thank these vital caregivers.
- Write a Letter or Card – Sometimes just being recognized for your hard work is enough. Take the time to write a letter or pick out a nice care and thank the caregiver for their service. Acknowledge the work that they do and express your support.
- Help – Don’t say “let me know if there is anything I can do” rather be very specific. For example, offer to mow the yard or to weed a flower bed. Maybe do some laundry. Make a visit and access the family’s needs.
- Get a group together and offer to pay for a service to clean the house. Having someone come in once a month is an amazing help.
- One thing I have found very helpful is when someone stocks my freezer. Get a group together and make a bunch of freezer meals. There are so many options online with some great ideas. Make sure to include a list which can be posted on the refrigerator so the caregiver will know what is available.
- Put together a care package based on the caregiver’s likes. Self-care items like candles, lotions, aromatherapy or anything to induce relaxing. A good book, a bottle of wine, or some great handcrafted chocolates. Make sure to package it nicely, there is just something about a nice presentation that makes even the simplest items seem special.
- Send dinner – Order a ham or something that can be used for multiple meals.
- Give the Caregiver a Day Off – If the situation allows offer to sit with their loved one so they can take a day off. The gift of time for oneself is precious when you are a primary caregiver 24/7.
- Flowers – Flowers always make a special gift that really shows how much you care. In addition to flowers, house plants also are a thoughtful present.
- Care Milestones – If their loved one has procedures scheduled, do what you can to help relieve their stress. Put together a meal train so they will have meals brought. Offer to be a point of contact and make phone calls to provide updates. Offer to bring necessities to the hospital.
- Gift Cards – These are always a hit whether it is to a favorite restaurant or store. Spa gift cards are a great way to provide a splurge. The nice thing about a gift card is it allows the caregiver to select what they would like.
These are just a few ideas. Visit Pinterest for a wealth of ideas for caregiver gifts.