Three Ways for Caregivers to Help Those Home and Ill for the Holidays

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Merry Christmas to multigenerational caregivers everywhere“Home for the Holidays.” It’s a lovely phrase that brings up so many special memories, emotions, and feelings. But for many in the Sandwich Generation caring for their elderly parents and other relatives this year, their phrase will be “Home and Ill for the Holidays.” Two years ago, a dear friend of mine called two days before she was supposed to head to her daughter’s for the holidays. She had developed a severe upper respiratory illness, collapsed, and was calling from the hospital where she stayed for several days before being released two days before Christmas. Several little friends of our family are dealing with different health problems, from Leukemia to gastrointestinal diseases, and face back and forth trips to the hospital. When they are home, they are often not feeling well. Even a simple illness such as a bad cold or flu can keep many home, miserable, and lonely during the holiday season. It’s hard on the person who is ill, it’s hard on their immediate caregivers and it’s hard for those of us who live long distances from them and still want to help.

Prayer is always our first priority, but after that comes helping with some of the vital necessities and comforts. Here are three ideas I’ve used when it’s happened to our friends and family:

  • Amazon is wonderful, particularly if you are a member of their Amazon Prime Discount membership program. For an annual subscription price, you can order any of their items (not their third-party items though) and have them arrive in two business days anywhere in the U.S. at no charge. For $3.99, you can upgrade to next day mail, and I believe that still includes Saturday deliveries. For some areas, it might even include Sundays. I have used this to send diapers and canned soup to a sick daughter whose husband was out of town, cookies and a book to my mom when she was ill while I was traveling, and non-perishable groceries to my mom-in-law when she was ill! The free or cheap shipping is great but it’s the fast delivery that makes it a complete necessity for me as a long-distance, as well as up-close-and-personal caregiver! You can find more information and sign up at their Amazon Prime Discount Membership page.
  • Grocery Stores That Deliver – I have used both Albertsons.com and Safeway.com to deliver groceries to relatives who were ill. I even made great use of Safeway for myself when I broke my ankle. They were wonderful! They don’t deliver to all locations, but if they offer it in the area where one of your loved ones lives, it will open up the door for you to send just about anything you can find in the grocery store. I would suggest going to their sites and signing up to receive coupons, special offers, etc. If you never use them, it won’t hurt. If an emergency comes up, it could provide free delivery on short notice. When you log in, you can type in the zip code for the area you are interested in to see if they offer delivery. Even if they don’t now, it’s still worthwhile to bookmark their site, as they could open up delivery services down the road.
  • Meals on Wheels – For elderly friends and relatives who are not doing well, Meals on Wheels can be a blessing from God as well as from you. At their national website, you can search for the office nearest your loved one (I would suggest just putting in the state). You can also make donations to this wonderful cause. When a dear friend of mine was ill for several months, I contacted the local Meals on Wheels and arranged for them to make deliveries. If you cannot afford to help financially, I believe they will do it for free, but for those of you who can afford to help, the per meal amount is very reasonable. Once this is set up, you will have the comforting knowledge that your elderly parent or relative is getting a warm meal each day. Not only that, it’s nice to know someone will be talking to them each day. One caveat to this – if your friend or relative is on a special diet, be sure to ask if the local Meals on Wheels can provide meals that work for that diet. Some do, but not all. We had to stop my friends’ meals after a few months as the doctor put her on a salt-restricted diet and her organization could not provide salt-free meals. Fortunately she was on the mend, so it worked out fine.

Now it’s your turn. What ideas have worked for your Sandwich Generation family? For those of you who live outside the United States, what options are available to you?  We’d love to hear from you! 

P.S. Click here for more info about Amazon.

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