Senior Beat: Thoughtful suggestions for gifts for seniors

Posted Dec. 03, 2008, at 6:27 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:52 a.m.

Thanksgiving is behind us and the leftovers are but a memory, so the time has come to give serious thought to brushing up on Christmas carols and hoarding sales flyers.

There is no denying that this is a difficult economy, and people on fixed incomes will feel the pinch a bit harder this year. Fuel prices are coming down, but it seems that food prices are steadily on the rise.

Still, giving a gift to someone you care about is about much more than the gift itself. It is much better to give than receive. I never believed that as a child, but now I know it is true.

That said, shopping can be stressful, especially when there is a person on the list for whom purchasing a gift can be challenging.

Here are some ideas that may put a smile on your senior’s face:

ä Think about a calendar — but with a twist. Tell the giftee to pick one day each month when he or she would like to go out to eat or have a visit. Then follow through, and the senior will be assured of having company and perhaps a good meal at least monthly. It is something to look forward to.

ä If you’re considering cologne, after shave or dusting powder, maybe rethink it — unless you are sure it is a welcome gift. Scents are highly personal, and powder on a non-carpeted floor can be very slippery — an accident waiting to happen.

ä Never give a pet to someone unless you are absolutely certain the person wants one and is able to care for it properly. But for those who already have a pet, send along a treat for their furry friend, as well. Check with the person to see what the pet likes for toys and treats. Cats especially can be finicky. A gift certificate for a veterinarian visit also might be appreciated.

ä Refrain from giving wine or liquor to people unless you know that they drink, what they drink and their tastes. White wine drinkers may not appreciate a merlot.

ä The price of groceries is going through the roof, so gift certificates to the local supermarket may be in order. A decorative gift basket of favorite goodies would make a pretty presentation and be practical. Include some postage stamps, which are always useful.

ä Gift cards for other things, such as gasoline, can come in handy. And because medications are expensive, a gift certificate to the neighborhood pharmacy might be much appreciated.

ä Large-print calendars with family birthdays and anniversaries circled and personalized with family photos is a creative gift and inexpensive.

ä Think about a large-print address book. Then you could help the senior transfer all of the information from the old book. It could spark some interesting memories, making for a fun afternoon.

ä Pay the light bill for a month or two and then let your loved one know he or she will have some extra cash to spend.

ä Other practical gifts include a cordless phone or answering machine which can help prevent a fall as the senior won’t feel the need to “run” for the phone, a magnifying glass for those who like to read or a cuddly robe and matching slippers with non-skid soles, or fleece sweatpants and sweatshirts for warmth.

Holidays can be depressing for people who are alone. So if you know someone who could use an outing, give him or her the best gift of all — an invitation to have a meal with you and your family.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. E-mail Higgins Taylor at chtaylor@eaaa.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free (800) 432-7812, e-mail info@eaaa.org or log on EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.

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