Five Ways to Help a Caregiver This Thanksgiving

5 Ways to help a #caregiver at #Thanksgiving via @blestbutstrest #CaregiverMonthYou CAN Make a Difference!

Thanksgiving means different things to different people. If you’re a guy, it might mean football (either as a couch potato or out on the front lawn). For women, it might mean cooking for hours on end all to have the feast disappear in thirty minutes and turn into hours of clean up.

Thanksgiving means family–which can result in laughter, tears, fights, and ruffled feathers. Whatever emotions Thanksgiving evokes in you–those emotions will feel magnified in a caregiver (because he or she will likely feel stressed out due to the fact that they are a caregiver).

5 Easy Ways to Help a Caregiver at Thanksgiving

1. Send a card. I know, it sounds cheesy, but the year Pedro had cancer, the RV dealership where we had purchased a used RV actually sent us a Thanksgiving card. Signed by four or five employees. I felt so lonely that year, because our family was strewn all over three states for much of the week leading up to Thanksgiving, that a simple card from a business gave me a warm glow. Just think how meaningful a card from a friend or family member will make a caregiver feel!

2. Make it Festive.  Create a festive Fall wreath (or buy one) and share it with a caregiver. Or buy some beautiful fall flowers.  Caregiving is hard work, and while we appreciate decorations, we often don’t have the energy to procure them. Here’s an easy gift bag idea from Lynnae McCoy that will serve double duty as decoration and a way to give some simple gifts.

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

Sweet Potatoes, Oats and Pecans–it’s almost a breakfast food!

3. Contribute: Call a caregiver this week and ask if you could contribute anything to their meal that you could make ahead a drop off before your own preparations consume your time. I usually make pies in advance and freeze them–so I make two of each kind and give one away.

4. Buy a roast-a-turkey kit for a busy caregiver: Ok, I know they don’t actually make roast-a-turkey kits–but you can throw one together! Buy a turkey, a baking bag, a disposable roasting pan, a savory rub, some stuffing, and veggies and drop it off this week. Caregivers often don’t have time to get out and shop (and money is often scarce).

5. Invite a caregiver to join your family. If your extended family can’t make it to your place for Thanksgiving, create one of your own (or if you love a crowd). Find a caregiver and invite him or her and the person they care for. Sometimes, people assume that someone else will take care of inviting ‘Aunt Sue’–but in reality, she’s been left out.

Do You Know a Caregiver?

5 ways to help a #caregiver at #Thanksgiving. Click To Tweet

If you’re a caregiver, what ways have people helped you? If you’ve ever helped a caregiver, what have you done?


Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • This is so important. When I was caring for Richard he wanted all the family to come here. I never said NO. But I was over-whelmed with all the preparations for the day. It is hard for caregivers to ask for help
    paula recently posted…Something That Makes Me LaughMy Profile

    • I agree! It is just hard to ask for help–especially when it comes to holidays. Maybe it’s because we long to be able to celebrate them the same way that we used to–it’s hard giving up control and not knowing what the results will be!

  • These are all lovely suggestions not only for caregivers but for those who may be shut-in and without local family. Such a practical & loving post! Thank you, Anita.
    Joanne Viola recently posted…shop locally. impact globally.My Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by, Joanne :). Sometimes, in the busyness of the season, it’s easy to forget to think outside the box!

  • Thank you, Anita, for all that you do to help others know how to better care for the caregiver. A lot of times they feel lost in the shuffle, and they need support, too. I saw this when my aunt was caring for my grandma before she passed, and I just witnessed this over the weekend as Ray cared for my friend, Debbie. He was her devoted husband for 42 years.
    Shirley ~Light Love Hope recently posted…Heavy HeartsMy Profile

  • Thank you so much for inspiring me to be more intentional about remembering caregivers during the holidays. I have someone specific in mind right now that I’ve only just “been praying” for her while she’s caring for her husband in the hospital. This is a great list of ideas!
    Chandra Hadfield recently posted…Releasing ArtMy Profile

  • These are such excellent ideas! Something I thought about when I read #4 (buy a roast-a-turkey kit for a caregiver) is that instead of buying a turkey that needs to be cooked, you could buy a precooked turkey (Aldi has some amazing precooked, smoked turkeys in their frozen section) or ham that only needs to be thawed and then heated up. If you have the money to really go all out, you could also check with a local grocery store that offers pre-cooked Thanksgiving dinners with all the fixings and then all the caregiver would have to do is heat everything up and set the table. I know Publix grocery stores (located in the southeastern US) and Whole Foods Markets both do this. I’m sure there are many other grocery stores that do it too. Another option might be to buy a deep fried or smoked turkey from a local charitable organization like an area Knights of Columbus, Boy Scouts, Lion’s Club (or Kiwanis, Optimist or other service clubs). Our local fire department is selling deep fried turkeys to raise funds for their charitable endeavours and to defray the costs of the upkeep of their trucks and equipment. Thanks for all you do to raise awareness about the issues that caregivers face and how to support them!
    The Momma recently posted…One Lovely Blog AwardMy Profile

    • What an excellent idea! I live in such a backwater place that I didn’t even consider those options (we have one grocery store within 30 miles of where I live). Thanks for sharing what the ‘real world’ has to offer!

  • Love these ideas! My dad is a caregiver to my step-mother who has a progressive and debilitating disease, and sometimes I just forget of all the things he goes through on a daily basis, and more importantly, that he needs to be encouraged in other ways. Especially as we get closer to the holidays, and they are so far from us. LOVE these ideas!!!
    Kristin recently posted…Perspective: Giving Thanks {Three}My Profile

    • I’m sorry other about your step-mother’s illness. Long-term caregiving can really drain a person. I’m glad that your father has someone like you to encourage and support him!

  • I love these ideas! I’m really passionate about showing hospitality to others, and this gives so many great ideas not just on ways to reach out and bless caregivers, but anyone who is in need this holiday season! Thanks for sharing and helping us to see needs that we might not have seen on our own!
    Heather Faria recently posted…Day 11: Suffering – When God is Silent, Part 2My Profile

    • :). Thanks for stopping by. Caregivers so often get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Hospitality doesn’t just mean what you do in your home–it also means what comes out of your home into the lives of others ;).

  • What wonderful ideas! Both of my aunts were caregivers to my grandmother who recently just passed and any one of these ideas would have been a HUGE blessing to them! Sometimes their sacrifice is overlooked unintentional and they would have loved any of these.
    Laura recently posted…Fragile Handle with Care: Part 2My Profile

    • Amen! It’s so easy to overlook the caregivers–especially when the focus is on the one who is ill, or the journey has been a long one.

  • I shared your post on Google+ so hopefully others will be able to see your great suggestions.

    I’m ready with a pack of cards to start encouraging others, but I want to put some of the others to use also.

    Thank you, and bless you with GREAT JOY on your journey, Anita!
    You are a blessing to many.
    Lisa Brittain recently posted…My Prayer For You*November 16, 2014*My Profile

    • Thank you for sharing and for your encouraging words, Lisa :).

  • What a great reminder to show love and encouragement to people that often get overlooked. I almost forgot about Inspire me Monday! At least I wasn’t too late 🙂
    Messy Mom recently posted…Signing a Prayer for Operation Christmas ChildMy Profile

    • I’m glad you remembered! I loved your post :).

  • I really enjoyed this post, especially because it is so personal to me. When my family and I were caring for my dying father, there were so many people who just dropped the ball in terms of support. My “best friends” were no shows and never checked in with me, so many of my dad’s siblings were MIA…I wish I could have been able to share this blog post with them.
    Amanda recently posted…Snowflake Ornament GiveawayMy Profile

    • I’m sorry for the loss of your father. I think a lot of the ‘ball dropping’ is a reaction of helplessness (people don’t know HOW to help) and a bit of fear at facing mortality. I’m glad that you were able to be there for you him.

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  • These are great suggestions to think about how we can thank someone who is taking care of a loved one that we can’t personally be with. Caregivers are such an important part of most of our lives in one way or another and I appreciate your reminders of how to help them know how much we appreciate them. I wish I’d thought about this a few years back when my husband’s grandparents were still alive, but certainly will be thinking about this in the future.
    Kathy recently posted…Where did all the good clients go?My Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by, Kathy! I need to go find some cards to send out to the caregivers I know that live a long ways away!

  • I love this post, your suggestions and Inspire Me Monday! Not sure which one I will/should/could do, but I plan to do something. I first need to find a caregiver to do it for. Thank you for helping me start on that path. God bless you, sweet friend.
    Julie Lefebure recently posted…Give Thanks… Even When Bad Happens??My Profile

    • 🙂 I’m glad you found some inspiration here, and I’m so glad you link up each week! Does your area have a hospice care center? They would probably have ideas of who in the area could really use some help!

  • Hi Anita! We had a 24/7 caregiver for my mother in law when she really slipped into dementia. What our worker really wanted was time off. We made sure we would take my MIL to our house, or made arrangements for a sub. Our caregiver really needed time with her family. It was her holiday too.

    Ceil recently posted…Hold On Or Let Go?My Profile

    • Just having some time off–responsibility free for an hour or a day–is so important to caregivers! Thank you for stopping by, Ceil!

  • What GREAT ideas! I’ve been trying to think of a few ways to get my young kids into the act of SERVICE this Thanksgiving. We are SURROUNDED by people here in caregiving roles. Why did I not think of this sooner? Thank you so much!
    Bethany Boring recently posted…The Song In Your HeartMy Profile

  • I love these suggestions, Anita. I have two new caregivers in my life: my dad, whose wife will only live another 6 weeks- 6 months, and my mentor, whose husband just discovered a spot of cancer on his lung (after 4 small skin cancers over 5 years.) I appreciate these ideas on how to be a support to them. Blessings to you this Thanksgiving.
    Betsy recently posted…Choosing to Count His KindnessesMy Profile

    • Oh, Betsy! I’m so sorry to hear about you dad’s wife and your mentor’s husband. Caregiving is such a time-consuming occupation and having wonderful people like you to support them will make all the difference!

  • Anita,

    I LOVE this list! Sometimes, I think to myself…Oh, I can do that and then I just plain forget. This is a practical way that I know I can bring hope to someone and encouragement. What a blessing to be able to be used by God to bring refreshment to someone. SO glad we are joining together for Inspire Me Monday…I appreciate your wisdom and encouragement! : )

  • Amanda Farmer

    This list is perfect. Many did these things for us when I was first disabled too! It makes a lot of difference.

  • Mary

    These are perfect ways to make a difference in the lives of caregivers. I know that receiving a card during my time of caregiving would have made all the difference. It can be a very lonely time. Happy Thanksgiving friend!