What do you buy for the "person who has everything"? That is the question faced by many holiday shoppers, whether it's for Christmas or birthdays. There comes a point in most people's lives when they either want for nothing or if they see something they want, they will purchase it themselves. If you are at that stage with your aging parents, here are some ideas from LifeFone:
Make phone calls a priority. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, phone calls get forgotten and pushed off to "another day." Make it a habit of calling your relatives at least twice a week. Set aside a time when you can talk with them for at least 15 minutes. Touch base. Ask if they need anything. Just have a general conversation, even if it's about the weather. This is truly a gift where it is the thought that counts.
If your relatives are tech savvy, make one of your weekly touch-base conversations via web cam or a web chat. There are many computers on the market that are easy to use and if you purchase one, set it up and have it ready at the touch of a button to accept a web call, that is a great way to not only touch base but to see each other face-to-face and that's ideal for long-distance grandparents.
Offer a gift of housekeeping. Your parents may, at first, be adverse to a "stranger" coming into the home but if you can arrange for them to meet the potential cleaning crew prior to the first visit it may make them more comfortable. Offering to have their house cleaned weekly or even every other week will make them feel pampered and will also alleviate their desire to clean every nook and cranny even when it involves climbing on a step stool or crouching into a corner.
If your relatives are social and mobile, offer them a class at one of the local senior centers. Many centers offer adult ed classes aimed at seniors. Check with the local college campus as they also offer many senior-centered courses.
Does mom or dad have a hard time hearing the television? If you have to turn it up at high volumes in order for them to hear but those volumes are too loud for conversation or comfort of others you might want to look for wireless headphones.
Put together a family history or a family tree or even write a family memoir. Talk with your parents and their siblings and pull out some family childhood memories. Look for photographs and put together a printed book. There are many stores and online sites that make this a very easy project.
If mom or dad are having any health issues or mobility issues, consider gifting them with a home medical alert system.For those times when you can't be there, their personal medical gives them immediate access to emergency medical personnel in the event of a health crisis or a fall.
What about a gym memberships. Many retirees love to stay in shape and a gym membership can provide unlimited benefits. Staying active helps improve memory, prolongs life expectancy, improves balance, makes everyday activities like walking and sitting easier, and improves sleep, to name a few advantages.
Does the house need a bit of a facelift? Ask mom or dad if they'd like to have their bedroom or living room spruced up with a new coat of paint or wallpaper as a holiday gift. If they spend a lot of time at home, this might be a very welcome change.
Spend some time age-proofing the house by installing grab bars in the shower, making sure all carpets and rugs are nonskid, install motion sensitive lighting in hallways, bedrooms or bathrooms so they aren't fumbling around in the dark.
Offer to cook a few meals a week for them or sign them up for a meals on wheels or other food delivery service which will alleviate the burden of them having to cook for themselves.
Give your relatives a book of "coupons" for nights spent together watching a movie, cooking a week's worth of dinners together, a day at the park enjoying the sunshine or even a day of spring cleaning, yard work or getting the house ready for winter. Time spent together is one of the most precious gifts you can provide your aging loved one.
Talk to your aging relatives and see if you can pick up on any clues for items they may want but wouldn't get for themselves and offer that as a gift to them. Your thoughtfulness will be appreciated at the holidays and year round.