Health & Wellness Resources


Giving the Gift of Time for Dementia Caregivers


What is the number one item on every caregiver’s list to Santa?

  1. Time

Unfortunately, Santa is a construct which rarely applies to adults.  You may have a holiday gift tradition with family or friends. And, if you are like many caregivers, you really are at a loss for an answer. A suggestion is to be your own advocate by suggesting rather than gift certificates or random personalized products; you are given the gift of time.

Be specific.  In your week, where would a few minutes, an hour, or an afternoon help you? 

  • If you are finding the task of getting the recycling to the curb on the right day is too much—ask a neighbor if they could assist.
  • If you find that you miss the produce stand regularly because of doctor appointments, ask a family member if they could stop in and get a few
  • If you need time to go to yoga, ask a family member to chip in once a month.

The importance of being specific with your gift needs allows your family member or friend to understand exactly what you need.

Another suggestion—be your own Santa. While reflecting on what time you could best use, consider time for yourself.

Naomi Feil in Validation Break-Through suggests a caregiver take time to practice a Centering breath. Mindfulness stress reduction techniques all include time and are positively associated with better outcomes for both you and your loved one. How can you give yourself the gift of time to breathe; time to be in nature; time to enjoy music; time to soak in a tub; time to pick up an abandoned hobby. 

Giving yourself the gift of time may involve accessing services via adult day, via home health, via a memory care community. As a caregiver you are the most precious person in your loved one’s life. In order to do your best, you need to ask for and take the gift of time.


By-line:  Cate McCarty, PhD, ADC has been collaborating with Arden Courts in a variety of roles since the late 90’s.  Her background in nursing, activities and admissions has given her a passionate commitment to quality of life for the individual and family with dementia.  Cate is now personally caring for her spouse who has a diagnosis of dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.



Feil, N. 2002. The Validation Breakthrough: Simple Techniques for Communicating with People with Alzheimer’s-Type Dementia, Baltimore: Health Professions Press..