With the holidays upon us, are you struggling with gift ideas for an older relative? Seniors can be a tough population to shop for at holiday time: mom may have downsized to assisted living and is short on space; or she may have physical or cognitive limitations that make most gifts seem impractical. If Dad’s moved into long-term care, then you may be dealing with not only spatial limitations but privacy concerns as well, particularly if he’s sharing a room. The good news is there are lots of ways to make the holidays meaningful for your elderly relatives, no matter what their living or physical circumstances. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Spruce up their space: There are lots of useful and decorative ways to brighten up their space without adding clutter. A new clock for the wall or bedside table can be a nice addition, or a digital picture frame loaded with the latest family photos; new bed coverings or throw pillows can change things up; low-maintenance plants like succulents for the window sill or a Christmas cactus are easy and practical ways to add life to a small space.
- Arrange a special delivery: If Dad loves to read, consider a book-of-the-month club, or a magazine subscription. Give him fresh fruit all year long with a monthly arrangement through a company like Harry and David; if gardening is more his thing, consider a monthly fresh flower subscription. Or, if he celebrates Christmas, LL Bean will deliver a miniature live Christmas tree complete with lights that he can set on a table top and enjoy for weeks.
- Keep their brain active: There are endless gift ideas for keeping mom’s brain healthy and sharp. Crossword puzzle books and Sudoku collections are great for her to do on her own; space permitting, board games and jigsaw puzzles can be fun to do with visiting family and friends. Give her a collection of greeting cards with pre-stamped envelopes, or personalized stationary with a smooth-flow pen; if she’s cognitively able, a pre-loaded Kindle or iPad can be an easy gateway to novels, helpful apps, and all kinds of digital content that she might find useful and stimulating.
- Make them warm and cozy: Seniors tend to feel chilled easily, so warm Dad up with a cozy robe and non-skid slippers, or a polar fleece lap blanket that he can throw into the washer and dryer. If Dad’s disabled, online retailers like Silverts and Comfort Clothing offer a wide range of adaptive clothing and accessories.
- Give them something homemade: We’ve seen wonderful examples made by family members in our own communities, including a guestbook for visitors to leave their well wishes; a suncatcher, or other window decoration; a mix CD of their favorite music; a scrap book of memories from the year, or a favorite vacation; a mug, blanket, or wall calendar from Shutterfly or other photo sharing sites; and hand-knit items like mittens, hats, and throw blankets.
Want to read more? Check out the Holiday Gift Guide for Seniors at Caring.com.