It was the annual girls’ Christmas shopping trip. For Cate and her cousins, shopping for loved ones was a highlight. Plus they’d always go out for dinner afterwards! Cate’s grandmother lived in an assisted living home and she was always the first family member on Cate’s gift list. This year, she was eyeing the soft lavender glove, hat and scarf set on display. It would fit her grandmother’s wardrobe and help keep her warm this winter.
The holidays are just around the corner. For many seniors, it’s the time of year they look forward to the most. They’ll get to see loved ones, and of course, opening little packages makes them feel remembered and loved. But what to get them? Here are a few ideas as you shop for your senior this fall. Even small gifts can make your loved one feel special. So don’t worry if your budget doesn’t allow for more than a few small items. Wrap them up in some colorful paper and include a holiday card loaded with warmth and love to go along with it! Different people are inspired by a variety of things. If you are close to your senior and visit them often, you may have noticed the types of things that they love. But even if you are out of ideas or have no idea what they would find useful, there are a number of gifts that will make almost anyone happy. Besides, they’ll know you thought of them.
Who doesn’t love a box of fine pralines or some freshly baked pumpkin bread? If you love to bake, you’re set. Whipping out an extra loaf or half a dozen cookies won’t take much effort. Find out if your senior has any dietary restrictions and adjust your recipe accordingly. Diabetics may require a sugar substitute and those with Celiac disease may need to avoid gluten entirely. Commercially made gluten free treats as well as those made with a healthy sugar substitute are becoming easier to find at the store if you are not into baking.
Activity books or puzzles. Seniors love mind stimulating exercises and feeling just the right kind of challenged. Talk with your loved one’s care providers and see what level of challenge is right for them. If your senior has Alzheimer’s or dementia and is part of a Memory Care program, you may be able to find a simple game or basic puzzle that will be enjoyable for them. There is a wide selection of adult coloring books to inspire them as well. Find one that is fun and relaxing to slip into your Christmas package along with bright color pencils or markers.
Technology. If your senior is capable of managing a few simple devices, you may decide to get them a bigger gift this year. iPads and smartphones can help keep them entertained and also connected with you long distance! You can help them get set up with video visits, games, social media, the news and so much more. You could consider doing a joint family gift where everyone pitches in for Grandma or Grandpa this year!
Books. Most seniors love to read and probably know all the cozy corners to relax and spend a rainy afternoon at their assisted living home. A book can make it all so much more enjoyable for them. Find out if they need any extra accommodations such as large print or audio style books. Or perhaps they would enjoy a book or magazine with pictures. Pack a book along with a meaningful coffee cup and you’ve got the perfect gift! If your senior expresses interest in the book you chose, encourage them to visit their community’s library next!
Something warm and comforting. A homemade scarf, soft, warm blanket, fuzzy socks or a glove and hat set can be a practical gift as well as comforting for your loved one as they lounge around their senior apartment or venture outdoors. They may already have plenty, but a new blanket in their favorite color might just add that extra sparkle to the holidays for them. These are easy gifts and can be some of the most welcome!
It can be fun to think of what to pack into your senior’s gift bag this holiday season and anticipate their eyes lighting up as you walk through the door. The greatest gift you can give them is your love and time, even if you can only spare a few minutes to say hello and give them a big hug. Be sure to spend time with your senior family members throughout the year so you can explore what makes them inspired. In fact, this could be a great New Year’s resolution! It’s the season to enjoy each other and spend time with family!