Cancer caregivers, which we define as an untrained spouse, partner, friend, neighbor or family member who provides for the full-time care of a loved one with cancer, can be living with tremendous amounts of financial stress and emotional anxiety. In their role as a physical and emotional support system, caregivers may be responsible for helping with everything from the patient’s treatment plan to his or her basic nutritional needs or other household duties.
It’s a hard job, and one that’s prone to burnout. Caregivers have to stay emotionally present, physically strong and acknowledged for the role they play in the patient’s life. This year, remind the caregiver of the role they play in your life with a thoughtful present that encourages them, supports their daily work, buoys their spirit and shows them just how loved and appreciated they are. Try one of these 10 holiday gift ideas:
Spa Treatment or Home Spa Care Gifts: Caregivers sometimes need to be reminded that it’s OK for them to take care of their own needs, as well as the needs of their patient. Encourage them to take an afternoon or even a few hours to pamper themselves with a therapeutic massage or a day at the spa. On a budget? There are a wide variety of at-home spa treatments that recreate the experience. Here are some of our favorites:
Journals: Cancer may take some caregivers by surprise, but one of the ways we can organize our thoughts and emotions and take control of the process is with a journal. A beautiful new diary or journal encourages caregivers to take five minutes a day to spill their feelings onto the page, which can help manage stress and negative emotions. Here are a few picks that any caregiver would love:
- “Caregiver Journal” by Journals Unlimited features writing prompts focusing on patient care and the emotional well-being of the caregiver.
- “You Got This” by Howling Moon Press features positive quotes and daily affirmations, as well as space for the caregiver to record private thoughts.
- Tough Cookie Blank Lined Journal, by Passion Imagination Journals is a blank, lined journal with a positive message on the cover that can remind caregivers of their strength.
Jewelry Honoring Caregivers: The color plum has been designated to honor caregivers. Encourage awareness with one of these meaningful pieces of jewelry, designed especially for caregivers.
Inspirational Memoirs: Many caregivers may eventually cope with extreme feelings of loneliness or isolation, and it’s important to remind your favorite caregiver that they are not alone. Choose a book written by a cancer caregiver, many of whom have transcribed their journeys into thoughtful, emotional and educational memoirs.
Funny or Uplifting Movies, Television Shows or Audiobooks:
These gift ideas also fall under the category of “self-care” for the cancer caregiver. Remind them that it’s OK to allow themselves some down time, with a gift subscription to Netflix
, or an audiobook subscription service like Audible.com
Cancer-friendly Cookbooks: Many caregivers are examining the role that diet plays in the fight against cancer. There is an enormous array of cookbooks addressing food-related topics for cancer patients, including foods that are tolerable for patients in treatment and overall guides to healthier eating.
Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give a cancer caregiver is a little extra free time. A one-time cleaning service for the home can help ease some of the daily pressures a caregiver faces, and allow them the time to do something they really enjoy. Search in your area for a cleaning service like Merry Maids
, and arrange for either a one-time cleaning or ongoing service for the caregiver.
Subscription Meal Services:
Many caregivers may find it difficult to carve out time in their days to eat healthy, nutritive meals, and a subscription meal service or club can help. It can be difficult for some patients to maintain a healthy diet during cancer treatment or recovery, at a time when fatigue may be a big factor and the patient is coping with changes to diet or sense of taste. A subscription meal delivery service like Blue Apron
can help ease the burden of meal preparation, or a specialty food of the month club like those offered by Harry and David
can help ensure a steady diet of fresh fruits and specialty cheeses. Even a gift card to a favorite local restaurant or grocery store can be an enormous help to cancer caregivers.
Caregiver Care Packages:
A curated care package especially designed for caregivers, like those from Upside Down Gifts
, can be the perfect way to remind a caregiver of the importance of addressing their own unique needs, even as they are providing for the care of a loved one. Choose from care packages focused on skin care, faith, meditation, relaxation and comfort.
Sometimes the best gifts don’t cost a thing. Let your favorite caregiver know how much they mean to you with a sincere handwritten card or letter. If you’re having trouble getting started, here are some tips from the organizers of From Me to You
, a letter-writing charity that works with cancer patients and their families.