Grandma and Grandpa have always spoiled you. They always seemed to hand you the perfect little surprise when you were a child, and now that they are getting on in years, you want to return the favor. They're older now, and maybe their sight isn't as good as it once was -- or their hearing or mobility. They already have a house full of dust-catching tchotchkes, or maybe they live in a residence and the room is furnished already. They deserve a gift that has some meaning, don't they?
Some people at 70 are fit and exercise daily, whereas others are sick, bedridden or frail and require assisted care.
"If there's one thing I hear over and over from our customers it's that many of the pleasurable activities they once took for granted have been taken away because of sight and hearing impairments. Products and gifts that help the elderly re-engage with friends, family and favorite entertainments mean the world to this community," says Irwin Schneidmill, president of Independent Living Aids.
Jeannie M. Bush, owner of Quilting From My Heart, advises gift givers to take a realistic look at a person's physical abilities and lifestyle before deciding on a gift. For instance, choose large-print or audio books for recipients with vision difficulties, amplified remote headsets for the hearing-impaired or other accessories to help compensate for the aging process. Those living in community situations may enjoy personalized gifts that will help to make the space "their own" or gifts built on memories to help keep their loved ones closer.
Comfort gifts are always appreciated. Think about moisturizing skin lotions, a new pair of slippers or a "gift certificate" for a foot massage or back rub. New pillows, blankets and pajamas also make good holiday presents. Heating pads with automatic turnoff or massaging pillows to fit a favorite chair also may work. Gift certificates for online shopping or coupons redeemable by taking the recipient to the mall or a favorite store are useful, too.
Your older relatives may need accessories, such as walking aids, to assist them in their daily activities, but that doesn't mean they have to give up a great appearance or feeling good about themselves. Designers are giving special care to everyday products for older people. For example, Omhu is launching its first designer product, a stylish cane.
A loss of independence and taking a fall are the top two fears of older adults, but many are hesitant to buy things that would help them, which is why the new Wellcore system may be the perfect gift for an older parent this year. The system includes new motion-detection technology to monitor the day-to-day activities of seniors.
"The Wellcore system monitors wellness and keeps seniors active with confidence," says Pete Janssen, Wellcore's executive vice president of marketing and sales. "Most seniors won't buy an automatic fall detection product for themselves, which is why Wellcore is a gift that not only gives caregivers peace of mind but also keeps loved ones safe in and out of their homes."
Gifts that help preserve memories -- e.g., photo albums, quilts made from special fabrics (old dresses, curtains, upholstery covers), audio recordings and grandchildren's handprints sewn onto wall hangings -- will be great sources of comfort for an aging relative who misses family. If the elderly gift recipient is unable to be present at family weddings or other special affairs, consider filling a digital photo frame with several pictures recording the event.
One more option for the giftee who has "everything" already is a donation to his or her favorite charity made in his or her honor. For someone with a kitchen, a gift basket of favorite teas or coffees or fixings for a meal (such as pasta and sauce) can be a very special gift.
When all is said and done, the most precious gift of all is your time and companionship.