Whenever the season for giving comes around, the question of gifts for caregivers arises. Whether your loved one is assisted by a primary caregiver, or whether an outside caregiver supports family caregiving efforts, she may wonder if it’s appropriate to offer him a gift during the holiday season. But how much money is appropriate to budget for a caregiver’s gift, and what kind of gift is best? Based on the advice of experts, here are the dos and don’ts of giving holiday gifts to caregivers to show gratitude for the help and energy they’ve shared all year.
According to Emily Post, an authority on etiquette, you or your senior should think about several variables before deciding to offer your caregiver a gift. The first among these considerations should be budget. If your senior cannot afford a monetary gift, Post suggests something homemade from the kitchen, something fashioned by hand, or a card containing a sincere, handwritten expression of gratitude in two or three sentences. Gifts such as these often feel more authentic than anything expensive or store-bought, and they won’t break the bank for seniors living on fixed incomes.
You should also consider how long the caregiver has been working with you — two months is a sufficient amount of time to be given a gift — and your senior’s relationship with the caregiver, including frequency and quality of care. Advice differs on whether your senior should give the gift directly, or if you or another family member should make the gesture. This decision is best made based on your individual situation.
Many caregiving agencies today prohibit gifts to their employees to avoid charges of elder abuse. If your caregiver was hired through an agency, it is important to reach out and learn their rules. If they do prohibit direct gifts for caregivers, see if a donation to the agency is acceptable, and if so, how it would be used. Some agencies, such as Visiting Angels, do permit gifts for caregivers so long as they are given through the agency, to avoid misrepresentation and misunderstanding.
Calculating the Right Amount
Most caregivers today don’t earn much over minimum wage, and many agencies don’t provide healthcare benefits, so caregivers count on monetary gifts or bonuses to help them make ends meet. Wendy Sachs at Care.com suggests using the one-week-salary rule as a guideline for gifts or bonuses; two weeks’ salary may also appropriate if the caregiver has been with your senior for many years.
Welcome gifts other than money might include gift cards to a favorite retailer, restaurant, movie theater, or spa — and getting creative adds to the pleasure of being rewarded for a job well done. As Post advises, however, any gift should be accompanied by a personal thank-you card, which will mean the most of all.