6 Last-Minute Holiday Gifts: Exciting, Entertaining, Easily Obtainable–2013

Need a last-minute gift for an older person without the enduring the hectic last-minute crowds?  Here’s my short list.  It highlights exciting, pleasurable and practical gifts that can help parents and grandparents age well.

  • Lottery tickets, whether they are the scratch-off or wait-for-selection-of-the-winning-numbers-kind, add excitement to life.
  • Christmas LightsA drive with you to see the holiday decorations. Especially at night, when many older people are insecure about going out, the light displays are a great treat.
  • Open Table gift card simple, free sign up. You select restaurant (from ***** on down, in 33 cities), select card design, and amount of $ you wish to spend. More info: (888) 503-7558 or gifts@opentable.com Gift card emailed to you to print out that same day. Many older people prefer their largest meal at lunch for various reasons; whatever meal, they can invite friends if you provide enough $.
  • Netflix conveniently provides seniors, who don’t go out to the movies, many hours of entertainment.
  • Filling the car with gas for a senior on fixed income, or helping with other such essentials is a welcome gift.  While shopping and taking out my led pocket magnifying glass to help the saleswoman read the care label on a coat, an 81-year-old lady, buying a jacket for her granddaughter, joined the conversation. When I asked her what she’d like for Christmas, she quickly replied “my health,” then added “and someone filling up my gas tank….I just bought gas and it’s so expensive.”
  • An IOU to take non-driving seniors shopping/to the doctor etc. and back.

While Netflix comes with a gift card, and lottery tickets speak for themselves, making a card for the last two gifts only requires a recipe/index card or a piece of paper onto which a picture of a car (gas-tank side showing?) is pasted.


Changing weekly: “Of Current Interest” (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.

Aging Parents: Fashionistas or Frumpy Dumpies? (updated–2015 store/catalog information)

includes 2015 catalog and website information for women’s clothing

Fashion week 2014 in New York: Young, beautiful girls, walking in sky-high shoes that would cause an aging parent to lose balance and break a bone. Clothing that’s probably a smaller size than any healthy aging parent would/could fit into, filled the runways. What’s a style-conscious aging parent to do?

Some older people don’t care–or perhaps they do care but are too depressed or lack the energy to make the effort.  Yet we’ve said many times, “look good, feel better.”  What comes first?

Aging parents and the elderly can look smart if they care and want to make the effort. And here’s where adult children can help. Think “presents”–gifts that pull clothing together (a cardigan sweater or jacket)–or an outfit. What about making the effort to take Mom on a shopping trip?

Clothing, of course, is only half of the equation. Hair is the other half. Think about the time hairdressers spend on models’ hair! (Check out Luca Luca grandma-style bunsfor an idea). Unkempt hair ruins a smart look, regardless of age or outfit. Then think easy-to-apply make-up.

Indeed, a great parent-present–for any occasion: arrange hair appointments with parent’s hairdresser–charged to you.  Or possibly have a fun outing like I did with R to check out wigs or hair pieces for those bad hair days…or possibly for every day. And perhaps try a new lipstick shade if you pass a cosmetics counter.

J, pictured at the beginning of this post, had hip replacement. This picture was taken a year later when she returned to the rehab center (where she had recuperated) to see a friend. A good hair style and a coordinated outfit make an 86-year-old woman look great, right?

Updated catalog and website iinformation for fashionable clothing appropriate for aging mothers and grandmothers:

1. NorthStyle ( NorthStyle.com, 800-336-5666)
2. Appleseeds (www.appleseeds.com 800-767-6666)
3. Serengeti (SerengetiCatalog.com, 800-426-2852)
4. Chico’s http://www.chicos.com/store/home.jsp (888-855-4986); stores throughout the US.
5. Draper’s & Damon’s (drapers.com 800-843-1174); stores in 5 states.
6. JJILL http://www.jjill.com (link has the best store-locator w/ phone # information box; local stores immediately viewed and great map for finding phone # and stores nearest you). Sr. Advisor R, at 101, still buys  jjill clothing through their catalog.

Happy Shopping! Whether for–or with–our elders. Whether online, catalogue, or at bricks and mortar stores: new clothes = look better and thus feel better–and that helps mothers, grandmothers, and even great-grandmothers age well.

Related: 2015 Fashionista or Frumpy-Dumpy~What’s a Daughter to Do? Click: Part 1
and   Fashionistas ages 67-93–Older Women and Aging Mothers who Look Good


Check out: “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals, plus some practical information–to help parents age well.