Finding those special gifts for seniors

Posted Dec. 15, 2011, at 9:47 a.m.

Thanksgiving is over and the leftovers are but a memory so it’s time to give serious thought to brushing up on Christmas carols and hoarding sales fliers.

There is no denying that this is a difficult economy and people on fixed incomes will feel the pinch. Energy costs and food prices are always a challenge. But as we all know, giving a gift to someone you care about is about much more than the gift itself. It’s about love and thoughtfulness.

That said, love or not, shopping can be stressful, especially when there is a person on the list for whom purchasing a gift can be a mental struggle.

I have a special idea for grandmothers with granddaughters who like to read. “Open Window: Truth from the Shadows” is a riveting novel by Courtney Harvey, a local author. This ghost story is set in Bangor and tells the tale of a troubled psychic teenager who, in her darkest hour, finds a champion in her grandmother. The book is about so much more but I can’t give it away. Now, I never recommend books but the grandmother got to me and I think this would be a great way to bond with the grand-teens. You could all read it and form a family book club.

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

• 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. The senior is assured of having company and perhaps a special meal every month. It’s something to look forward to.

• Never give a pet to someone unless you’re positive the person wants one and is able to properly care for it. I have heard awful stories of poor animals that have had to be removed from their new homes because the seniors couldn’t handle it. But for those who already have pets, send along a treat for their furry friends 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 might also be appreciated.

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

• Other gift cards, such as gasoline, can come in handy. And because medications can be expensive, a gift certificate to the neighborhood pharmacy would be much appreciated.

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

• 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.

• If your senior likes movies, think about Netflix. For a nominal fee, you just choose the movie you want to see and they will mail it to you. When you send it back in the prepaid envelope, your next selection will be shipped.

• A couple of 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, and a cuddly robe with 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 — time with you.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging.

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