Give the Gift of Helping Out This Holiday Season

Give the Gift of Helping Out This Holiday Season

The joy of the holiday season can be overwhelming for family caregivers who already have their hands full. Professional caregivers can help them still rejoice in the holiday spirit by taking on a few errands or chores and checking them off the list.

“We are offering this service to those who would not normally need us, but could really benefit from our services making the holidays more like the ‘good ole times.’,” said Diane Popenhagen, Executive Director of Homewatch CareGivers in Denver, Colorado.

That service is “Holiday Helpers” and specifically offers to help people with things that seem to only come up at this time of year—such as decorating the house, shopping for, wrapping and sending gifts, shopping for and cooking extra meals or special recipes, picking up and dropping off visiting family at the airport, writing and sending cards and more.

“We have helped grocery shop, prepare special dishes, buy cards, address and mail cards, buy gifts, wrap gifts, mail packages, drop off bonuses to service workers, make suggestions to family members, select clothing for the holidays, drive to pick up relatives at the airport, send emails—especially for vision-challenged adults, read emails aloud, help coordinate schedules and remind everyone to keep it simple,” said Beverly Brinson, owner of Homewatch CareGivers in The Woodlands, Texas.

These additional caregiving services might help someone who is in need of additional care and support, or might provide support for their family caregiver who is also a busy parent, volunteer and employee.

Peter Rosenberger, who has been a caregiver for his wife for the past 30 years, is an advocate for extra help during this busy time of year. “The holidays are a crazy crunch time,” said the host of the radio show, Caregiving With Hope and president of Standing With Hope. “There are people coming to the house to drop off meals or gifts and we need help to usher people in and out. I need to have somebody who can help herd that process. Or someone can help with thank you notes.”

Mr. Rosenberger, who also writes a monthly blog post for AARP Tennessee and appears in a new AARP ad with comedian Jeff Foxworthy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJUyfrsJDCY), said that for many years he thought he could do all of the caregiving for his wife, who lost both legs after a car accident. I can’t run a company and do all this by myself,” he said. “I tried that for years and it darn near killed me and it was hard on her too. I have been there done that, and got the t-shirt. You cannot do this alone.”

Ms. Brinson has been offering this additional “Holiday Helper” service for 10 years and has found that people often don’t realize what they need help with in the first place. “Staying calm,” she said. “Seriously, adult children often don't realize that parents walking or moving slows down and routine tasks take longer.”

Also, she points out the this is a time of colds and flu, which can slow people down or derail the best-laid plans.

Illness is not the only potential drawback to making the holidays festive. “We are offering this service because in the winter, especially around the holidays, depression, boredom and loneliness are real concerns for the senior population,” said Ms. Popenhagen. “By offering these simple services, we can help them enjoy the activities they always appreciated during the holidays.”

Mr. Rosenberger said that he will continue to get as much help as possible to make the holidays an easier time in his family’s life. “What is your time and peace of mind worth?” he said. “Now I can get the Christmas cards out on time.”

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