HOLIDAY GIFTS GUARANTEED TO PLEASE AGING PARENTS: THINKING AHEAD

Gifts We Can Be Certain Elders Want

IMG_2319MEMORY TEST: Have your aging parents or grandparents–or great-uncles or aunts– ever mentioned off-handedly or in conjunction with other thoughts, something they need, want or would love to have? And you file it in your memory as a gift idea for later on?

I’ve flunked that. Perhaps I’m not alone. Sunday I was reading posts in my archives and unearthed something I’d forgotten. Sr. Advisor, R, mentioned the retrofitted shower’s hand spray device was big and heavy for her 99-year-old hands according to that post. I had purchased a smallish, relatively light weight one when we remodeled our apartment’s bathroom. Its spray could be adjusted to pretty powerful if necessary. I knew it would be perfect–a needed gift.

To back up: R (who has aged in place in her home of 60+ years) had her shower retrofitted before her return from rehab following her broken hip surgery. She didn’t mention the hand spray until last March when I asked if I could write about her shower redo. That’s when I learned about the hand shower spray. How could I forget between March and November?!

Kohler K-8487Now that I’ve remembered, I will go to the Kohler website and show her the hand spray photo on my iPhone. (She is much less flexible, at age 100, with anything involving change; we try to be sensitive to that). Who knows, in the last 7+ months she may have become accustomed to that big, heavy hand spray! Since we have no tools and aren’t handy, a plumber would need to be part of the hand-spray gift. Considering the total cost, we want to avoid a mistake.

We’ll be with her at Thanksgiving and I know I’ll find a reason to casually bring up the subject. Since my iPhone is never far from me, showing her the photo will be simple. If she still has interest, a gift guaranteed to please will be coming her way at holiday time.

We know our parents pretty well.  Nevertheless, aging does bring changes. I think we all want to give gifts that add to older people’s lives, not give them clutter or something that causes problems. That’s why–from now on–when, especially, an older family member mentions something that is broken, not working, not right, has been lost etc. etc., I’m going to keep a list and pull it out well in advance of a gift-giving occasion. As we try to help parents age well, doesn’t that make sense?

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.

Help Aging Parents: Getting a Head Start on Valentine’s Day–1

It’s always a joy to receive a Valentine, whether young or old…but especially for the old. Having ideas for Valentines–or Valentine gifts– ahead of time clearly reduces the pressure. Of course, executing the idea eliminates the pressure completely–and can be lots of fun. I’m checking with friends for ideas. Here’s idea #1 with thanks to far-away-living daughter, Monique, who’s doing this for her mother in France.

IMG_0937After purchasing a heart-shaped box at a Dollar Store, she wrote the following note and placed it in the box.

“I’ve taken all the love out of my heart and placed it in this box. Any time you need a little, open the box and let some out.”

Then Monique added some chocolates to the box.

Wouldn’t this bring joy to any aging parent–or grandparent! And adding joy to their lives, certainly helps them age well.

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Thoughts and information:

  • I think the note alone is a true gift. Yet those”little chocolates” are nice, especially for chocolate lovers. They might even be Hershey Kisses in the US. (Monique says they’re not available in France.)
  • There’s no dollar store near, so I haven’t checked the heart-box supply. Michael’s has the small heart-shaped boxes (pictured), large enough to hold the note and a few pieces of candy

 

Holiday Gifts for Aging Mothers–1 2012 update

Also Click Great Gifts tab above

Fashionable, Appropriate Clothing and Accessories:
7 Excellent Sites 

A never-worn St. John knit hangs in my closet.  Normally a very pricey label, it was so inexpensive (a “buy” you can find in NY). I couldn’t resist getting it for my mother years ago–her size, her color, two piece. But she never wore it.  Why?  At age 83, she tactfully told me that she didn’t wear short sleeves because of flabby arms. Who knew?

Something to think about when selecting clothing: older women’s particular wants and needs, as well as challenges.  Can can they button and unbutton easily? What about hooks and eyes? clasps to necklaces? things that zip, button in back etc. etc.  Do they want to downplay/hide certain parts of their body?

Senior advisor R, 99, still uses catalogs…and always looks well-put-together. Check out her favorite catalogs and their URLs. If you want to entertain your mother, while getting an idea of what she likes, check them out together.  (In counseling we call the latter “a hidden agenda.”)

Appleseeds www.appleseeds.com (800-767-6666) The $79.95 washable, red Cascade Ruffle Pointe knit jacket Cascade Ruffle Ponte Jacketcould be a “must-have” for the holidays. (A woman 65+ reviewed it.)Pair it with black pants and a festive top. Pants, shirts, skirts, sweaters, jackets, coats, pant suits; accessories, handbags, shoes, gifts–you name it, Appleseeds has it. They carry Women’s sizes. Click the Santa’s weekly specials. The “Ruffled Front Boiled Wool” jacket, that comes in various colors, could pull an outfit together nicely in colder climates.

Chico’s chicos.com (888-855-4986), has online shopping, as well as bricks and mortar stores. Attractive clothing, jewelry and accessories suitable not only for us, but for women of all ages. Check out online: the Mesh Marine cardigan $53+ (hand wash), and Traveller’s Collection Bree cardigan $65+Travelers Collection Bree Cardigan(machine washable) that add a contemporary look and can hide “a multitude of sins” (as they used to say) for older figures. Their ever-changing sales have just changed again, so always check them out along with Today’s Deals.

I visited a Chico’s store recently. I’m told older women especially love their jackets (which also include “cardigan sweaters;” cardigan sweaters are in the sweater category as well) and jewelry. Indeed a well-dressed older woman was trying on a jacket at a bricks and mortar store in Arizona.

Coldwater Creek www.coldwatercreek.com (1-888-678-5576) emerged from bankruptcy with new ownership, as an online business (no bricks and mortar stores for the time being at least), in November 2015. Many were saddened to see the “Going Out of Business” signs last summer and hopefully will have expectations met with this new business model. While offerings are relatively small as the business gets up and running, they continue to carry all sizes (petite to plus), accessories, a clearance ……. , offer customer service by phone. This link explains the difference between the old and the new (http://www.coldwatercreek.com/about-us/about-us.html),

Don’t want this to be too long; list will be continued next post.
Happy Shopping!

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.

EDIBLE/DRINKABLE GIFTS

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.

IDEAS FROM THE BAKERY

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.

CANDY

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.”

JAMS and JELLY

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.

HEALTHY INDULGENCES

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.

BEVERAGES

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

Computer

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!

 

 

Holiday Gifts for Aging Parents–3: Mothers continued

Holiday Gifts for aging/old/older mothers continues but first–

Sr. advisor, R, was able to join–with wheelchair– the family Thanksgiving celebration–a gift for her and for the 12 of us. In our efforts to help parents age well, we were careful not to exhaust her–although not completely successful.  While a lot of stimulation is fun, it uses energy that is in shorter supply in older people making it difficult for them to gear down.  But it made for good sleeping for R that night, once back at the rehab center.

Giving mobility-challenged older people the gift of an outing, if one does this alone, may merit practice with loading and unloading a wheel chair or walker; and may present initial stress.  The staff at care centers is helpful, we found, offering a mini lesson.  In our case, the actual transporting to and from our car was no problem–went more smoothly than the mini lesson.

R says this first outing gave her confidence to go out again.  My husband thinks a drive; I think a drive + lunch.  We’ll see.  Of one thing we’re certain, she won’t go out holiday shopping. That said, she did ask for one of her catalogs and a looked-forward-to appeal letter so she could order Christmas gifts for those special people who live near and are dear to her; and to make certain a local food bank gets its annual Christmas donation.


Holiday Gifts for Aging Parents–Mothers (updated 11/9/12)


Flattering Clothes and Accessories for Older Mothers

Please go to updated 2012 post:  

https://helpparentsagewell.com/2012/11/24/holiday-gifts-for-aging-mothers-1/