Do you know someone who cares full time for a disabled child or loved one and are unsure what to do for them for Christmas? We carers can, after all, be a tough lot to know what to do with when it comes to the holiday party invites or gift giving. As many of us can tell you, invites out often stopped years ago. We just can’t get out unless there’s either a family member who can care for our disabled child or a nurse available to provide respite. Some of us, like me, don’t have a partner, family or in home respite nursing available, so friends tend to just know an invite can’t be accepted – so it’s simply, sadly, never given.
Don’t give up on carers. There are a number of ways to show them you care at Christmas.
Here are some ideas:
- Drop in for a visit, especially if the carer is homebound the majority of the time. Loneliness at Christmas can be especially difficult for a carer.
- If you can’t drop in for a visit, pick up the phone. Chat. Ask them how they’re doing. And listen. Really listen.
- Send a card with a gift voucher to help with expenses. Carers of a disabled child or other family member have expenses out of the norm which most people don’t realise – extra heating oil; extra electricity used in the amount of daily clothes washing, running motors on beds and equipment, etc; paying for groceries to be delivered; higher insurance costs for accessible vehicles; and much more. If relegated to social welfare as a full time carer, that adds to the financial strain with the extra expenses.
- Time. Are you willing to learn how to help care for the carer’s disabled child so to give them a break on occasion?
- Gift basket. Many of us run on coffee, tea and chocolate. How about putting together a lovely little basket filled with the carer’s favourite drinks and goodies?
- Offer to run errands. If you have the time (or can make the time), consider asking the carer you know if there are any errands they need to have run, but they can’t get out to do themselves. Remember, we’ll probably say no at first, but there’s bound to be something that needs done.
- Connect with them. Be it in the Christmas card or in a letter or on the phone, let them know that you see what they do every day and provide that recognition. Not patronisingly, but genuinely and compassionately let them know you are there for them while they are there for the child they are caring for around the clock. In short, simply letting them know they are being thought can be just what they need to make their often isolated day a bit easier.