Edible/Drinkable Valentine’s Day Gifts

I put my senior advisors to work for this post and we’ve come up with ideas for bringing pleasure to aging parents on Valentine’s Day. Today we feature Edibles and Drinkables. Makeables (things you make), and Nursing Home ideas follow.


Older people–aging parents and grandparents–welcome something special to please their taste buds, especially when they no longer drive, have less money for luxuries or just enjoy indulging. That’s why serious indulgences (things they probably wouldn’t buy for themselves) plus a few healthy indulgences make perfect Valentine’s Day gifts.


La Duree’s macaroons are the gold standard for macaroons, which have become popular in the US. Although very expensive, people in NY line up to buy them from Laduree’s small shop. Their varieties of fillings are delicious, amazingly capturing the essence of the chosen flavor, but are not appropriate for people who shouldn’t have sugar. These macaroons aren’t shipped in the US as far as I know. However Fauchon, a top French food retailer with a US presence, offers macaroons, and takes orders on-line. In addition, Bissinger’s, a “handcrafted chocolatier” in St. Louis, USA since 1853, makes French macaroons and offers on-line ordering. That said, you can find ordinary macaroons at local bakeries and French macaroons at French bakeries.

Check out Laduree and Bissinger’s websites.  Near the top left of Bissinger’s site, click “Valentine’s Day VIEW ALL,  for macaroons, cookies and candy.

Who doesn’t like home-made cookies! If you bake, so much the better. If not, buy bakery cookies or check out Trader Joe’s cookies if a store is near. Breakfast pastries and coffee cakes are additional suggestions–freshly baked or frozen.

Individual pies, small cakes, cupcakes, decorated for Valentine’s Day, are always a hit. And we know the value of eye appeal.


We know our parents’ favorites. Sr. Advisor R says, “I’m always glad when someone sends–or brings–me candy. I wouldn’t buy it for myself.”


Sr. Advisors think jams and jellies in little jars are welcome gifts for those living alone. There’s variety and they won’t get old as quickly. Makes sense, doesn’t it.


Fruit baskets which–if we make them–are easily (and less expensively) put together. Think red fruits (strawberries, apples), combined with purple and green grapes and possibly more exotic fruits (kiwis, mango), bananas, tangerines and/or a pineapple plus dried fruits and packages of nuts.  And chances are, elderly parents have plenty of baskets if they have been hospitalized within the last decade and still live in their homes.  Why not borrow one, if you don’t have your own supply.


Gifting bottles of flavored waters serves 2 purposes: older people often don’t drink enough (they don’t feel thirst as younger people do); they taste good and are good for hydration. Especially if parents take pills, we know drinking lots of water is important..

R thinks “hot chocolate mix in a can makes a wonderful, comfort food gift, especially for a man.”

A fine bottle of wine or liquor, case or 6-pack of beer (micro-brew?) are other options.

Tea (canisters or boxes)–always popular with tea drinkers. Starbuck’s VIA coffee packets are handy and pricey (Costco has packaged the Columbia coffee single servings in many VIA packets [can’t remember how many] for around $15-$16–no doubt a good buy). Older people may hesitate to buy these “luxuries” for themselves. Both tea bag packets and Via packets can be incorporated into a Valentine–so can gift cards. You’ll see easy instructions on Tuesday’s Valentine’s post, thanks to Martha Stewart.

“Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some free and some fun stuff–to help parents age well.


Aging Parents, Set In Their Ways. Can They Change? Thinking Twice About Holiday or Non-Holiday Gifts in 2013

Set In Our Ways? Creatures of Habit?
Open to Change? 

I remember, when I was very young, overhearing my dad’s concerned conversation about his widowed sister’s not being interested in remarrying. As I recall he said something to the effect that if she waited too long, she’d be set in her ways, and then she’d never remarry.

At that age all I knew was Cinderella, pictures of beautiful brides, and Prince Charming. How could she not want to remarry? What was “set in her ways?”

The conversation made no sense, but I’m remembering and understanding these many years later.

  • being rigid (resistant to change)
  •  being a creature of habit
  •  being uncomfortable with–rather than excited by– new things.

It seems to me all of the above qualify as “set in her/their ways.”

And here is the path that contributes to being set in her/their/our ways….

In youth and young adulthood, we’re most likely excited to try new things. That’s how we learn. It’s part of growing up.

As we age we establish routines and patterns that work for us. They become familiar, comfortable. Think: routes we prefer driving, ways of loading and emptying the dishwasher– unrelated things that become habits over the years.

It seems probable that the confidence of our middle-age years decreases—due to normal aging changes (vision, hearing, memory), dramatic health events, or less energy and willingness to make the effort. For example, a new washing machine with the latest technology, can send formerly fearless, confident seniors to put on glasses and carefully read the instructions—or phone someone for help–before daring to press one gleaming button.

What I am fairly certain of is that when people start getting old, maintaining the status quo—if it’s working– over-rides almost everything else. And this makes change difficult. (Even our “with-it” Sr. Advisor, R, at age 98, says she’s now much more reluctant to change anything unless absolutely necessary).

Change impacts habits as well as confidence. It requires adaptation, which—especially for aging parents and old people–can seem strange or seriously threaten their comfort level.

What Does “Older Parents and Holiday Gifts” Have To Do With It?

Finally 2 rather dramatic examples (but they make the point), applicable to gifts: In his late 80’s Dad needed a new car. Seemingly the new model, same make, no changes (he and my brother checked), would cause no problems. Wrong.  One—to us—minor change.

The car door lock used a PIN, instead of a key. Dad was a creature of habit. He had to remember the PIN. What if that computer chip or whatever failed, or he forgot, and got locked out? He had confidence in a key. He drove the new, specially-ordered car back to the dealership the same day, asked if they could find him a new previous year’s model with the old locking device.  And they did….in Alaska…for a hefty price.

Ditto, almost–many years ago with my husband’s 80-something-year-old grandmother whose old stick-shift Plymouth was getting hard for her to drive. That said, she loved the car and loved driving. Her son bought her a new car with automatic transmission, which he assumed would be easier. She missed the stick-shift; couldn’t get used to the new Plymouth’s automatic transmission.  Drove it less than a month. Finally drove it in the garage and never drove again.

Changes major and minor impact aging parents’ and older people’s lives significantly. Something to think about in the New Year if changes that involve any bit of new technology are a possibility and you can’t be Johnny or Joni on the spot to explain and help.  And something to think about now as we contemplate holiday gifts for older people…who may be set in their ways. While the gift below looks tempting, check first–it may not be welcome.


Check out Newsworthy(right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities, respected professionals, and selected publications–-to help parents age well.

A Father’s Day Round-Up of Gifts for Aging Dads-continues


New gift suggestion #1: **arranging regular appointments for pedicures for dads (you can make the gift certificate) who can no longer easily reach to cut their toenails. At a certain age this becomes difficult, which I didn’t realize until Dad, at 90, said he was going to Mom’s hairdresser’s and would be back shortly.  Since Mother had died, I was curious.  “Oh,” he said, “many of us now go there to have our toenails cut.  I can still hit a golf ball, but it’s really hard for me to bend and reach that far to cut my toenails.”  Who knew?

I am reminded once again, of the importance of “feet” for balance and fall prevention. You may recall my April post about the American Geriatrics and British Geriatrics Societies issuing new Fall Prevention Guidelines https://helpparentsagewell.com/2011/04/02/aging-parents-and-the-updated-american-geriatric-societybritish-geriatric-society-fall-prevention-guidelines-in-the-elderly/ this year. Assessing gait, balance, feet (their condition) and footwear have been added.

#2: **Should an appointment with a podiatrist be another gift idea? Yes, if deformed toenails, bunions or anything that could interfere with balance is an issue.

And while on the subject of balance, which can lead to falling, which is such a concern for older people….

#3: **an alert pendant or bracelet.  Check my two earlier posts containing research on specific brands: https://helpparentsagewell.com/2010/12/28/aging-parents-alert-pendants-researched-and-reviewed/ I think they are a necessity to help older parents who live alone age well.

This round-up concludes with the gift Fathers–and Mothers–want most (taken from last year’s Father’s Day Post on June 19, 2010).

Father’s Day and other major holidays signal family togetherness. Adult brothers and sisters and their families join aging parents to celebrate on these occasions. Their adult lives may be different from the life of their youth, their competencies may have changed,
but on these holidays the family members who come together fulfill most aging parents’ wishes.
“Time with family” is the gift
most older parents say “means the most.” 

Aging Parents:Technology Gifts for Non-Tech-Savvy Seniors–2011 update


Living far from my parents, I thought gifting Dad with a computer–just like mine so I could help him if he had problems–was a great idea on many levels–including our staying in touch.  Dad had a logical mind and could take apart and fix anything. Therefore I deduced, he would find using a computer relatively easy.  Wrong!

While his hands were steady at 85 and a mouse was no problem, he seemed eager to try but there was no natural instinct (as there is with today’s children.) He was fine when I was sitting next to him; but when I left he couldn’t do it. I’m an educator as well as a counselor and know how to effectively teach.  But I failed.  That said–

6 Gift Ideas for Non-Tech-Savvy Seniors (updated 11/2011)

1.  A computer? Nancy M., a computer educator who successfully taught octogenarians, among others, for over a decade says: “If people are mentally sound and have the dexterity, they can successfully use a computer.”

To start out right, she advises, find a teacher or someone who understands how people learn.  An older person should be taught at home on his/her own computer.  Arranging the computer desktop so that only needed icons are there is a must…reduces confusion, she says. She also makes a folder for the desktop, containing an individual file with simple instructions for each procedure. Instructions are there if someone forgets. (Knowing the the last 2 suggestions when helping Dad would, I think, have given him the confidence he lacked when I wasn’t there.)

2.  PawPaw http://pawpawmail.com/ easy e-mail for nontech seniors and grandparents. The NY Times New Old Age blog had a post about it in the spring of 2010. There’s a 10-day free trial period.

3.  Presto Printing Mailboxhttp://www.presto.com/ E-mail comes to the recipient as a printed-out letter; photos can also be sent. One-way communication from you to noncomputer users. There’s a monthly fee.

4.  Fax: Most aging parents are comfortable with this old technology. Its original purpose was to transmit letters and documents. Excellent for: making copies; communication to/from doctors’ offices; obtaining copies of records or lost bills; enlisting your help with confusing letters or bills. When mother was recovering from her stroke, it gave her incentive to exercise her hand and fingers by writing me–then faxing (or have Dad fax) it to me. Short notes grew into letters–good, meaningful fine motor practice.

5.  An iPad: a touch screen is easier than a mouse or keyboard for many older people. Marti Weston provides excellent information as she shares her experience with the iPad she bought for her dad.  http://asourparentsage.net/2010/12/03/holiday-gift-buying-an-ipad-for-your-senior-parent/#more-5951

As readers know, major studies confirm social connectedness is one of the three most important factors in successful aging. The above gifts support connections with others who have differing abilities where tech is concerned.

While the last gift doesn’t promote social connectedness, it does promote pleasure….

6.  The iPod Shuffle— “tailor-made for seniors,” according to Phil Moeller’s 2010 article “Best Holiday gifts for Seniors” in US News&World Report.” Once it’s set up, to operate it all one has to do is click-on and click-off. Someone else who is already familiar with iTunes needs to learn what their favorite music is, obtain it, set up the playlist, and load it. If the senior knows how to operate a TV remote, they’ll be able to handle this single-button operation.”

With hopes one of the above gifts will be an enriching, meaningful addition to a non-tech savy-senior’s life.

Changing weekly: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.
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3/26/14 Help! Aging Parents was just nominated again for the Seniorhomes.com Best Senior Living Awards 2014, “Best Blogs by Individuals” category. It was a finalist in 2013. I appreciated your votes last year and would very much appreciate them again this year by clicking http://www.seniorhomes.com/d/help-aging-parents/2014-best-senior-living-awards/ if you’re on Facebook. Deadline 4/28/14 Thanks so much!