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The Best Caregiver Gift

caregiver holding handsIf you are a caregiver to an older loved one during these holidays, you may have been wrestling with the eternal question of what to give to a person who seems to have everything they want. And most of us have parents who are of an age that they have had the time to accumulate lots of gifts over the years. If we are talking about the gifts that get wrapped and shared at Hanukkah or may be placed under the Christmas tree, you may be right. Anyone with enough birthdays may have had the chance to accumulate a lot of stuff over those years.
But psychologists have confirmed that the gifts that mean the most are not the stuff that can be packaged; they are the experiences of shared moments you can share with your older loved one. So, as you think about gifting for your older loved ones this holiday period, think about a shared cup of coffee, a shared moment of just being present, even a walk in the proverbial park. But it gets even more interesting.
Psychologists also talk about the difference between experiencing the moments and remembering the moments. The most important part that creates the most lasting impression is the latter of these two. You can share a perfectly average cup of coffee with your loved one, but if the conversation ends on a high note or with a recollection of something in your collective past of particular brightness that you can share, you will have created a very happy memory of the coffee experience (the average coffee fades away). Little wonder that we have these expressions like “save the best for last” or “everyone loves a happy ending.” And I guess this also gets in the way of one of the sayings that I always thought made the best sense. It is something about “Life is short. Have dessert first.” So, if I am to take the experts seriously, I should plan to spend a meal time with my older loved one…and have dessert last…and maybe first as well.
Now, you have a plan to make your time with your older loved one about the experiences of this holiday season. But you should also remember the one item that most caregivers give the least attention. You need also to remember to take good care of the caregiver! So, as you plan the experience, it can also be a perfect gift for you, the caregiver as well as for your care receiver. What could be better than a happy ending, if not a “win-win?”
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to


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