Gifts for a Catholic full-time carer with absolutely no time?
September 20, 2018 2:44 AM   Subscribe

We are going to visit a Very Deeply Catholic relative for a long weekend. She recently became the carer for an elderly relative who requires constant supervision due to advanced & terminal, but slow, illness. She does not want us to cancel the trip. I want to get her a gift that doesn't require time for her to appreciate (e.g. no books) and which travels well (not flowers). Chocolate/food delivery gift cards are my first thought, but if there's something a Catholic woman would especially appreciate I'd like to hear about it?
posted by flibbertigibbet to Human Relations (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
To be clear: we visit her yearly and I normally bring not-really-perishable treats as a hostess gift, we just want to give her a more substantive gift that might provide some level of relief or succor, even if only for minutes, because this is very hard. Given she's deeply Catholic and infuses everything she does with her Catholicism, an effective gift might be Catholic-y...
posted by flibbertigibbet at 2:47 AM on September 20, 2018

An ipod filled with audio books that she could enjoy while carrying out caring duties and a subscription to Audible?
posted by humph at 4:00 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

Honestly, if she has no time, that’s the one thing you could probably offer her that she would appreciate the most. I’m sure she will love seeing you. I’m also pretty sure she would love it if you could sit with her relative for an hour or two while she goes to church/has a massage/takes a walk etc. Chocolate is a lovely thought but a break is what most caregivers value the most. If you’re looking for something after you’re gone, if it’s in the budget, maybe paying an in home nurse to visit for a couple of hours to relieve her would be an idea. It’s very nice of you to think of her in this situation.
posted by Jubey at 5:03 AM on September 20, 2018 [28 favorites]

I found a Brother Andre who is the patron saint of family caregivers. here

If you scroll to the bottom there is an online shop that has items related to him. The novena or the prayer book, along with a prayer medal or rosary seems like something I might get my MIL who is similarly devoted to Catholicism
posted by Ftsqg at 5:05 AM on September 20, 2018 [10 favorites]

A lot of monasteries support themselves by selling food items they make. Here is one.

I also really like the idea of something related to the patron of caregivers or her patron saint (probably her first name). Trinity Store has beautiful artwork that is available in a lot of forms, including mugs. I really love the work of Brother Lentz.
posted by FencingGal at 6:07 AM on September 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

My grandmother was Catholic and she very much appreciated this night light we got her in the shape of Mary. Hers looked like this But I see there are many more options when I Googled.
posted by shalom at 6:07 AM on September 20, 2018

Maybe get a Mass card from her church to go along with whatever other gift you bring? She'll be included in the intentions, so basically lots of people praying for her. Generally you make a donation for one around $10.
posted by brilliantine at 7:06 AM on September 20, 2018 [13 favorites]

This calendar looks pretty. I know they usually have religious calendars at those pop-up calendar stores in the mall, but you might have to wait a few weeks for them to show up. One of the daily ones that you tear off might be nice.
posted by soelo at 7:23 AM on September 20, 2018

Seconding the mass card idea. That seemed to mean the most to my devout Catholic family members.
posted by not that mimi at 7:58 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

It might be an idea to wait until you get there and something time saving & convenient might jump out at you - for example, if she likes to make and buy in bulk then defrost and cook from the freezer, you could get her a small microwave that fits in a specific space in her kitchen.

(I'm kind of deliberately ignoring the religious element of the question because the devout Catholics with roles as full time carers in my family welcome practical, thoughtful gifts that you will be best placed to choose. Mass cards are welcome but I'd rather a 30 minute break in a hot bath over a 30 minute prayer session on my behalf but then I lapsed a looong time ago so please feel free to ignore!)
posted by humph at 8:45 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

A visiting nurse can be expensive, but a laundry service that picks up an drops off, or a gift card for grocery delivery, or a session of house cleaning...all of those are ways to buy some time back. You could also bring a Mass card with you on a day when you come over to personally do some laundry or drop off groceries.
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:45 AM on September 20, 2018 [8 favorites]

Mass card, for sure.
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:41 AM on September 20, 2018

These are all really great suggestions. In addition, my devout Catholic relatives often find recordings of hymns very meaningful, and audiobooks on specifically Catholic themes (I know you said no books, but if you think it would be a pleasant distraction while doing chores, etc...). I particularly like Clarissa Pinkola Estes' recent recordings about the Blessed Mother . But I'm no longer Catholic, and that might not be to everyone's taste. A saint's medal might also be a lovely touch, as something she can put on every day and be reminded of both your thoughtfulness and the comfort of her faith.
posted by eafm at 1:24 PM on September 20, 2018

Practical gifts like a microwave are unlikely due to logistics and them being pretty solidly equipped (the caree has her own fully furnished, with separate kitchen, mother-in-law suite; there are more than a couple nurses in the family within a short drive, whereas we live in another country and need to fly in and have no experience with full-time care for this illness). Due to the nature of the caree's illness, the caree may find us (in general) or our attempts to aid in care upsetting, so that's why I'm not banking on that and am instead planning for some gifts as a 'minimum effort' thing. (In the caree does find us upsetting, we can just avoid the mother-in-law suite, or, if necessary, retreat to another family home in the area.)

posted by flibbertigibbet at 3:13 PM on September 20, 2018

If this was my mom you were asking about, I'd say that she would appreciate a mass card, a rosary, or possibly a devotional like this.

If there isn't a need to be concerned about her caree and candles (whether sensitivity to smoke or risks associated with having an open flame), that might be a gift she would use and enjoy? Lighting a votive candle to accompany prayers, particularly intercessions, is a strong Catholic tradition. Some convents and monasteries sell candles, if that might be extra meaningful (Google is turning up more Orthodox monasteries, which wouldn't be an issue for my mom, but here are some Catholic communities).

On a non-religious front, does she like scarves or shawls? I've had those go over well as gifts for people I don't see very often, or who are going through a hard time. Having something to wrap around yourself that feels nice and makes you think about someone who cares about you can be very comforting.
posted by EvaDestruction at 8:21 PM on September 20, 2018

Here a few of my favorite Catholic things:
- Music from the Benedictines of Mary (this is just one of many available)
- Give Us This Day subscription (monthly publication with short daily devotionals)
- Modern icon prints from Rabbit Room Arts
- Ceramic saints from the Monks of Valyermo
posted by hessie at 6:58 AM on September 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

I gave a Very Devout Catholic Lady friend of mine, who actually spent several years in a convent before deciding to not become a nun, a Jesus Toaster™ as a gift and it was well-received. Obviously the recipient needs a bit of a sense of humor, though.
posted by XMLicious at 6:59 AM on September 22, 2018

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