The holiday season is full of stress for many of us, and gift giving tops the list of worries, especially when we have an elderly loved one to buy for. What do you get for someone who seems to have everything that they already need?
There are only so many knick-knacks and trinkets that can be displayed, and these just seem to cause more work, as they need to be dusted. Collections are wonderful, but often need much more storage than is available. Photos are appreciated, but framed prints can overflow an already crowded dresser or table. Make sure to replace old, outdated copies with fresh ones to save space. Holiday plants and flowers are also lovely, but require care and maintenance. Gifts of food need to be properly stored and can be more than a small appetite (or a limited diet) can handle. Make sure that your loved one is allowed to have whatever you send and will be able to consume it before it spoils.
When asked what they felt would be good gift ideas for senior residents, social workers in our assisted living facility gave the following recommendations:
Gift certificates are now very popular – shopping cards for local convenience, grocery or discount stores were appreciated by seniors with limited incomes. Coupons for services such as haircare or housekeeping (for seniors still living on their own) are also a good choice.
Cardigan sweaters that can be easily put on and taken off are perfect for seniors living in an area where room temperatures vary. Because they are less physically active, elderly people can tend to feel colder than they are accustomed to during the winter months. Fleece jackets and insulated undergarments to help keep loved ones warm are also appreciated. Whenever purchasing clothing, make sure that old and ill-fitting items are removed to make room for newer pieces and to help alleviate over-full closets and dressers.
The social workers all agreed that the very best gift to give an elderly loved one was the gift of time. Rather than purchasing something that your senior may or may not use or want, why not take them out to dinner at a favorite restaurant or participate in a shared activity, such as a movie or even a walk in the park? Spending time with loved ones is one of the favored activities of most seniors. Many times limited mobility makes it difficult for them to get out or socialize. A short trip or visit can help brighten an elderly person’s day and alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can lead to a decline in health and general well-being.
Spending a few hours with a friend or family member is often exactly what an elderly person wants and needs during the holidays. It is also an inexpensive option that will not break the budget!