Curious how to celebrate National Caregivers Day? Caregiving is often a 24/7 job; even 9-to-5 professionals provide an invaluable service.
Fortunately, there’s a national holiday to help bring caregivers the attention they deserve, although gratitude can be shown all year long. Read on for answers to common questions about National Caregivers Day, such as “When is National Caregivers Day?”
What Is National Caregivers Day?
Caregivers are often underappreciated, especially since much of the labor happens behind the scenes. Many caregivers feel burdened and experience a reduction of quality of life, especially if caregiving responsibilities rest upon family members who have cared for an adult parent or stepped up in other ways to care for a loved one.
Fortunately, whether your caregiver is a health professional, spouse, or other family member or friend, there are many ways to show gratitude.
Brief History of National Caregivers Day
Founded in 2015, National Caregivers Day was created by the Providers Association for Home Health & Hospice Agencies (PAHHHA) to honor millions of caregivers. In 2016, it was proclaimed a national holiday, and since then it’s been a big hit!
Observing this holiday can help raise awareness of all the unique roles caregivers fill, from transportation to cooking to cleaning and beyond.
When Is National Caregivers Day?
National Caregivers Day falls on the third Friday of February each year. It’s different from National Family Caregivers Month, which is observed each year in November.
However, you don’t have to limit celebrating your caregiver to just one day or month a year. Both events are opportunities to raise awareness about interesting facts, challenges of caregiving, how communities can step up, and where to access support.
How to Celebrate National Caregivers Day
Searching for the perfect gift to the caregiver that does so much for you? Look into these nine ideas for pampering, spoiling, and celebrating someone who takes the time to support you in a way no one else can.
Simply Say “Thank You”
While this may go without saying, a simple “thank you” goes a long way. In fact, research has shown that saying thank you is a powerful expression of gratitude and can communicate that you understand the extent of your caregiver’s work.
If you typically say “thank you” for what a caregiver does, try complimenting them for who they are. For example, say “I’m grateful to you for being so attentive and kind” instead of merely saying “thanks.”
Craft a Homemade Card
One of the most heartfelt ways to celebrate the caregivers in your life is to hand-make a card! This can show thoughtful planning and skills on your part, and it’s likely that your recipient will notice your efforts.
If you’re limited in mobility, try digitally creating a card online, which can still be considered homemade. Make it even more meaningful with a personalized note (handwritten or typed will suffice) or include a long-form letter with everything you’ve meant to say. Mail it to add an air of surprise!
Send Flowers on a Special Day
If you’re sick often, you’re likely the one getting flowers, cards, or candy. Switch it up by sending your caregiver the things you love to receive the most. Flowers may sound cliche, but fresh delivered picks can add beauty to any room.
If your caregiver is not a fan of flowers, send an edible arrangement instead. That way, they can enjoy the delectable bouquet!
Give the Gift of “Me Time”
Searching for the perfect gift for the caregiver that does so much for you? While tangible gifts are nice, what they may actually want most is “me time” or some time for themself. Sometimes caregiving requires the caregiver to put aside their own needs for a period of time, and a break is much appreciated.
If your caregiver doesn’t know what to do with themselves during this time, suggest the following ideas:
- Attend an fun, new exercise class
- Get a haircut, color, or blowout
- Go shopping or to a spa
- Take care of personal errands they’ve been putting off
- Travel or take a trip (even if just for a few days)
As a bonus, offer to take care of the cost! If you still need attention during the meantime, be sure to arrange for respite care or spend time with a family member or friend. This way your care won’t be interrupted while your primary caregiver takes a much-needed break.
Make Their Job More Manageable
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA) it is possible to “be an effective caregiver while also taking care of yourself.” Helping your caregiver understand their unique roles can make their job more manageable, especially since there are many different kinds of caregiving. From long-term care to advance care to long-distance caregiving, accessing resources and tips can make the job easier day-to-day.
Many caregivers find the NIA’s caregiver worksheets especially helpful. While not a typical gift, thoughtfully procuring or printing these works for your caregiver can be a practical way to let them know you care about making their job easier.
Checklists, resources, and worksheets are available on the following topics:
- Coordinating responsibilities
- Hiring a care provider
- Home safety
- Managing medications/supplements
- Moving an older adult into your home
- Organizing important documents and records
Try a New Therapy Together
Caregiving isn’t easy for either party, including both the giver and the recipient. Spending time together doing something new can be therapeutic, and can take your relationship to a more meaningful level. This can be an especially meaningful way to connect with both professional caregivers or family caregivers, since it can be a break from the norm.
Need ideas to get you started? Try attending a class or event that focuses on the following:
- Art therapy
- Music therapy
- Pet therapy
Cover the Cost of Mental Health Resources
Did you know caregivers are at increased risk for reduced quality of life, anxiety, and depression? Since caregivers spend so much time caring for others, they are prone to neglect their own care. This is especially true of informal family caregivers, who provide hours of unpaid care.
In any case, covering the cost of mental health care can be a unique way to compensate your caregiver for their labor or love. Working with a therapist or other mental health expert can help your caregiver to lower their high levels of stress hormones. In other words, it’s a powerful way to say “thank you” and can benefit their mental and physical health.
Sign Them Up for A Subscription
In this day and age, subscriptions for almost any good or service are available. Automated subscriptions are especially useful for caregivers since it’s one less item to worry about or manage. This can be a great way to show your long-term gratitude, since it’s (quite literally) the gift that keeps on giving!
Consider providing one of the following subscriptions for your caregiver:
- Beauty or wellness boxes
- Favorite newspaper or magazine
- Meal delivery or grocery boxes
- Monthly tea or coffee boxes
- Photo printing (such as Persnickety Box)
- Snacks or healthy treats
- Supplements that beat stress
Select a Support Group to Join
Whether you’re a caregiver or recipient of care, joining a support group can be a meaningful way to celebrate National Caregivers Day. Connecting with others experiencing similar challenges can help you feel less alone.
If you’re struggling to find local groups, visit social media to locate like-minded people.
In Conclusion on National Caregivers Day
There are many ways to value the caregivers in your life, from one-time gifts to ongoing subscriptions. Recognizing National Caregivers Day each year can be a great way to connect with others and a break from the normal day-to-day routine. Whether you’re spending the day together or offering your caregiver a respite with some “me time,” there are extensive options for making each day and interaction more meaningful.
Amaro LM, Miller KI. Discussion of care, contribution, and perceived (in)gratitude in the family caregiver and sibling relationship. Pers Relatsh. 2016;23(1):98-110.
Goyer A. 5 Ways to Thank a Caregiver on National Caregivers Day. Aarp.org. Published February 2023.
National Day Calendar. National Caregivers Day – Third Friday in February. Nationaldaycalendar.com. Published February 2023.
National Institute on Aging. Taking Care of Yourself: Tips for Caregivers. Nia.nih.gov. Published May 2017.
National Institutes of Health. Coping with Caregiving. Newsinhealth.nih.gov. Published December 2015.
Shin JY, Kim JW, Shin DW, Kim SY, Yang HK, et al. Underestimated caregiver burden by cancer patients and its association with quality of life, depression and anxiety among caregivers. Eur J Cancer Care. 2018;27(2):e12814.