For seniors and homebound, holidays and birthdays can be bittersweet: filled with happy memories, but sad with missing loved ones. Here ‘top 10’ gifts for the elderly and shut-in, being mindful of senior physical limitations, diet and health issues.
Personal visit. The most beautiful gift in the world cannot replace time spent with someone. I know it’s means time and hassle. If you feel you can’t afford the cost, consider this option. Take whatever money you would spend on a gift and put it toward a day or a few hours off from work to spend with a senior loved one.
Pre-paid cell phone or phone card. Being alone frightens many elderly people. Knowing that they can call you for is a great comfort. Be sure to explain the phone and phone call plan to your elderly loved one. Digital equipment often intimidates a senior citizen. Navigating voice operated menus is difficult too. Show her how to use it and make sure she feels comfortable doing so.
Homemade digital video on VHS or CD: Have each family member record a bit about what is going on with them. Children love to demonstrate things they have made, or a new thing they can do (ride a bike, tie a shoe, etc). Teenagers can be taped playing their sport or instrument, reading some things they have written or showing how they redecorated their room. Have everyone speak very clearly. Talk to your loved just as you would if they were with you.
Photo collage, digital frame or scrapbook of the family members: Your senior loved one can be part of your activities this way. Don’t choose just the posed ones, but the silly informal ones. Use word balloons. Have your children decorate a picture frame. Send these with school pictures in them. Digital picture frames are coming down in price, too. Why take digital photos and give great-grandma a “live action” digital photo frame?
Polar fleece blanket: Senior citizens tend to take a chill more easily. Many organizations knit or crochet blankets for seniors. I applaud that effort, but I prefer polar fleece for several reasons:
-Polar Fleece is very soft and warm; it has no holes.
-Polar Fleece is easy to work with. Simply cut or fringe the edge with scissors; no hemming is needed.
-Polar Fleece washes well. It retains shape, color and freshness through countless washings. This is helpful for the care facility laundry or family , as it requires no special washing treatment.
-Polar Fleece is inexpensive. Hobby Lobby, Joanne’s and local fabric stores often sell it for $4-$5. Pre-made polar fleece blankets go on sale very frequently. You can purchase a 50″x60″ blanket for as low as $2-$3 around Christmas. If you purchase our own fabric, buy two yards for each blanket.
Books or stories on tape or CD: If you read well, you can record yourself reading a favorite book aloud. Speak slowly and clearly. Books on CD are available at many retailers and online. You can also choose the large pictorial “coffee table” volumes. Look for books in his area of interest or by her favorite author. Amazon, Borders, B.Dalton and Barnes and Noble Booksellers have excellent sales and selection. One year, I bought books and book/CD sets for everyone on my list. I found beautifully illustrated volumes for about $5 each in everyone’s favorite content area.
Mp3 or IPod: The little ear buds fit directly into the ear just like a hearing aid. The volume can be turned up as loud as needed. With the Mp3 player, you don’t have to fumble with the CDs; this makes them more user friendly for senior citizens and people with arthritis. My grandfather received an IPod for Christmas, pre-loaded with Grandpa’s favorite music. Mp3 players are available starting at $15 to $20.
Portable CD player with CDs: These make nice gifts if the person can manage the CDs and buttons. This task can be difficult and painful for arthritic hands or those who have neuromuscular difficulties.
Gift basket: Based on needs, dietary restrictions, and interests assemble a basket based on a theme. Include a book or magazine, magnifying glass, a book, book on tape, cocoa or tea and a mug and cozy slippers.
Robe and slippers or active wear (sweat pants and shirt). These are easy to put on with no buttons or fastenings. They are soft, warm, comfortable and easy to wash.
For more gift-giving suggestions, visit my linked blogs.