What not to give a care receiver for Christmas -- a caregiver's view.

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Birthdays, Mother's Day, Christmas all bring little gifts from the family. There is one gift that shows up each time that I dread seeing -- gift cards. These may seem nice, but if the giver thinks it through, they will realize it is a bad idea. How is someone who can barely walk going to spend the gift card?

My mother sometimes gets gift cards to a restaurant that is many miles from our house. This means that I have to devote several hours getting her there and having dinner. Wouldn't a better gift be if someone would pick her up and take them to dinner themselves? I know... that would be too much trouble.

Store gift cards are not a good idea. My mother gets these a good bit. What it means is that I have to go to the store and buy her something. Maybe she will go with me, meaning it requires a half day of my time. Wouldn't it be better for the person to just buy her something themselves? Or if the giver would come and take her to the store to buy something. I know... too much trouble.

I doubt many gift givers think about the technicalities when they purchase gift cards. It is easy for them to do, but it transfers the work to the caregiver. I know... I have a bad attitude, but really, take her out to dinner yourself. She would love having some different company. And buy her a present yourself. I buy everything for her already. Bah humbug.

15 Comments

Gift cards are terrific for teenagers who love to shop and whose taste changes weekly if not more often. Gift cards are fine for young people or couples just starting out on their own and need tons of practical things to furnish their nests and/or would enjoy splurging on a nicer restaurant than they normally can afford.

But for and elder with impairments? Gift cards simply pass the task of gift selection on to the already overworked caregiver! You are so right, Jessie!

Another no-no, in my book, is to give kits or hobby items that the person will need help with. Offering to come over and do the activity with the person -- fabulous! Expecting the caregiver to do it is not a thoughtful gift.

@Jessie I so agree with your discussion topic. Instead of a gift card, a visit or a basket sent to the house with fruits or goodies or even a flower if Mom likes those too is a much appreciated gift for a shut in. I like your caregiver suggestions!
Gift cards are an insult to caregivers. The giver of the card, doesn't even spend the time to pick out a gift. Throwing money a situation, doesn't always solve the issue. They should actually take time to figure out what the receiver actually needs or wants. Such a cop-out.
Pajamas or gowns are anise gift. Mom lovescgetting new jammies. Also my best friend makes her a basket of fruit candy and a stuffed toy and has the produce department shrink wrap. She loves digging through for various goodies that have been especially picked for her
Can you shop online with Mom and get take out delivered (lots have free delivery)? Perhaps the restaurant has an online menu? You and Mom could make your selections and even invite the gift card giver pick it up and join you? Or, depending on logistics, invite a neighbor who goes by the restaurants? Oh the things you can think (Dr. Seuss). If worst comes to worst, or best, the cards might be used for bartering purposes, e.g., mowing, repairs etc. Bon Chance and blessings.
P.S. A lot of online stores have free shipping and returns. Having been house bound myself, I've found that helpful and have gotten some good deals.
Also I must admit experiencing some minor frustration with them. With the limitations to where they can be spend I have thought I'd just prefer good old cashola, or a check. Then it was (gr)attitude adjustment time.
In early November - to give them plenty of time to shop- I sent out a list of gift suggestions to MIL's other children.

The SNF washing machines do a great job of cleaning her clothes and making them appear ancient in a couple of months. So I sent out her sizes and clothing needs. She had always prided herself in dressing well. It would be important to her non dementia prior self if someone made sure her clothes were presentable - they know this.

I also told them that the bingo games need prizes constantly. In the SNF gaming arena, anything new or edible works as a prize. These games are very important to the other residents who help look after her. It's a small facility and the residents keep an eye out for each other.

And thirdly, the SNF staff would appreciate presents. I gave suggestions.

No one gave any sort of response yet. I do wonder what the response will be.

I am tempted to ask my husband to wait and see who sends her presents before sending them their Christmas checks from her. Though they are nominal amounts, it's still rather mean spirited of me. I shall try to be better.

Cash, I could put into her account at the SNF for her beautician, but I didn't think of that as a suggestion. She has her hair colored, permed and styled regularly. She is a long time narcissist so this gives her hours of pleasure admiring herself in her mirror.

We made calls on Thanksgiving to the 3 other children. She left nice messages in their machines. One called her back. This seemed to depress her at Thanksgiving so we won't do that again.
Wow-good point about the gift cards! I hadn't really thought of it that way! I am a part time care giver to my Mom . My Dad is full time caregiver( for now) and I DID send him an Amazon gift card once. He is just so darn picky! At least it was for an on-line purchase. Mostly, though, for gifts I give him my time. He goes on weekend trips( casinos) and I take care of Mom. He seems to like those the best!
Oooh, oooh, ooh, I forgot - no Christmas decorations for SNF residents without checking first! We have a collection of miniature lighted trees that people sent FIL. We could set up up lit forest. THERE IS NO ROOM on her limited surfaces for even one tree. Now maybe they could send a carpenter along with an approved material shelf.....

Carpenter reference was not in religious context, meant to hang the shelf....

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