For someone caring for a loved one living with ALS


Looking after a family member or close friend who is living with ALS is a precious act of love and devotion. It is often a full-time commitment that demands a lot of physical and emotional energy, making it challenging to maintain your own health and well-being. If you know someone in this role, the holiday season is a perfect time to say, “here’s something to help take care of you.”

Many of you from our ALS caregiving community recently shared some gift ideas you thought would be most appreciated by others providing care for a loved one. Keep in mind that it may be hard for caregivers to ask for what they need. They often prioritize the needs of their loved one over their own. They can even feel guilty attending to their own needs, putting self-care at the bottom of their list.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and spread your love around! If some of the suggestions below seem like a good idea, chances are, they will be received with gratitude and appreciation.

Here are some gift ideas to offer a caregiver you care about:

Time for yourself

Clock icon

The number one request from caregivers was some time to re-charge. As the disease progresses, someone living with ALS requires an increasing level of support managing even the most basic daily tasks, such as eating, getting dressed, and showering. Giving a caregiver the time to take a break allows them to return to the role feeling re-energized and better able to cope. A day off might provide the respite someone needs, but even giving the gift of a short break can be helpful.

Debbie Henderson appreciated a few hours away from her role as caregiver so that she could go shopping or out for a meal with a friend. “I also used the time off to attend an ALS support group for caregivers. I got so much from the others in the group. It picked me up when I was feeling down.”

Relaxation for your body

Clock icon

Caring for someone with ALS is physically taxing. As a loved one gradually loses the ability to move, the physical demands of the caregiver role increase. Dealing with equipment like wheelchairs and specialized assistive devices for personal care can be hard on the muscles.

Many of you emphasized the importance of physical therapies such as massage, reiki, float pods, spa treatments like manicures and pedicures to help soothe sore muscles and rejuvenate the body. Offering a gift certificate for any of these services can provide temporary relief from pain, stiffness, or fatigue.

Jessica Gustafson also included yoga as a way to de-stress. “I had the gift of a yoga class once a week, coupled with a reliable person to come and stay with my hubby. I think it got me through some of the darkest times and also, it felt so good for my tired and stressed body. Super lovely and thoughtful idea.”

Visits for your loved one

ALS is such a devastating disease. Many people become uncomfortable with the physical effects of the disease when it happens to someone they know, even when it is a close friend or relative. When people turn away, it can cause tremendous pain.

Offering a friendly visit can be a wonderful gift for the caregiver and the person living with ALS. “My dad was such a social and friendly guy,” says Andrea Fairweather. “When he developed ALS, people stopped visiting. It broke my heart that people didn’t know what to say, so they stayed away completely. It would have been so much easier for me with regular visitors.”

If you’re not sure whether a visit would be helpful or not, you can always ask. Caregivers will let you know if they prefer privacy, or if it is too much for the person being cared for to receive a visit on any given day, or at any time during the progression of the disease.

Taking care of chores

Clock icon

Finally, think of a chore you can take on that might relieve some of the work of caregiving. It doesn’t have to be something big. A gift card offering to do the dishes, mow the lawn, clean the house, pick up groceries, walk the dog, or cook a meal is something many caregivers would appreciate.

 

Use your imagination. The possibilities are endless and the potential for making someone feel appreciated when they are giving so much of themselves is a gift in itself!

Posted in: Support & Services
Tagged: