Finding the right gift for your senior needn’t be complicated

Posted Dec. 05, 2012, at 10:05 a.m.

Thanksgiving is over and the pumpkin pie is but a memory. Now it’s time to give serious thought to brushing up on holiday songs and hoarding sales flyers.

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.

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

• Think about a wall 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.

And while we are talking about calendars, large-print ones that are decorated with colorful circles for family birthdays and anniversaries and personalized with family photos is a creative but useful idea. It is also a great project for children who typically love stickers and it’s inexpensive.

• There is nothing like a cuddly puppy or kitten at Christmas playing with ribbons and bows. But it is a really bad idea to give a pet to someone unless you are 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 them. It is heartbreaking for everyone when the animal has to be returned to the shelter.

But for seniors who already have pets, including them in the gift-giving can make a senior’s day. We all think our pets are special. I personally just beam when someone says, “Hey, cute cat.” So send along a treat for your senior’s furry friends as well, but best to check first to see what the pet likes for toys and snackies. 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 would be useful for everyone. A decorative gift basket of favorite goodies would make a pretty presentation but would also be practical. Including some postage stamps is a nice touch.

• Other gift cards, such as for gasoline, hairdresser appointments and cell phone bills, can come in handy, too. And because medications can be expensive, think about a gift certificate to the senior’s preferred pharmacy. Or 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 or old TV shows, think about Netflix. For a nominal fee, you just choose the movie or show you want to see and they will mail it to you. Once you send it back in the prepaid envelope, your next selection will be shipped.

• Other practical gifts include, a cordless phone with an answering machine which can discourage seniors from running to answer the phone, magnifying glasses for those who like to read, and cuddly, warm robes with matching slippers, non-skid soles of course.

Holidays can be depressing for people who are alone so if you know someone who could use an outing, maybe a ride to see Christmas lights, 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. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, email info@eaaa.org or visit http://www.EAAA.org.

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