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OT: Gifts for Older Adults

JRI's picture

This is a public service announcement for anybody wondering what to give an older parent or grandparent.  DH85 and I(77) still live independently in a middle class suburb.  We already have all the things we need or want and, actually, are trying to divest some of it.  I know we are hard to buy for but here are some ideas:

1)  Restaurant gift cards.  Fast food or mid-range.   Gift cards to specific stores are iffy.  If you know the person's interests, they can be good, like an ULTA card for a beauty-conscious person.  But we have often received cards for places like a sports supply store and spent time wandering around and trying to find something to spend them on.  Personally, I would love to get grocery or gas gift cards but some people might find that demeaning, like " You must think I'm needy".

2)  For those with more time than money, give the gift of your time and strength.  I would love someone to give me 3 hours for raking, cleaning, etc.  You'd have to make it specific, like "3 hours before June 1" and positively, ansolutely follow up.  Perhaps the gift would be 1 visit to outline the work beforehand then the 3-hour day.  My DS recently cleaned out my dryer vent (almost totally clogged) and it was better thsn anything he could buy.  This weekend, he's fixing a toilet and replacing 2 toilet seats. Priceless.

3)  Gift card for a cleaning service.  The idea is to introduce this service and make the people feel comfortable with it so they, hopefully, continue.  I'd look for a commercial service with bonded and insured workers, rather than "Mary's cousin who cleans".

4)  if you feel you must have a tangible, wrapped gift, then warm clothing is best, like a sweater, gloves, pjs or scarf.

5)  Idea for a child to give: a wine glass from the dollar store.  Maybe they could find a way to personalize by writing "Love" or drawing a heart in nail polish.

6)  Snack basket:  I really watch what food we buy for health reasons.  DH sometimes looks at me like I'm the Food Police.  So, our DIL gives him peanut butter, pistachios, chocolate, and other forbidden foods.  Of course, he has to "clean them up". He always looks forward to her packages.

I'm sure others will have additional ideas.


ESMOD's picture

My father is 93... and just about any gift for him is really unneeded.  He is well able to buy anything he wants for himself (financially).. He has simple needs.  He is no longer really able to go out to eat so that is out for him too.  My DH and I do many things for him throughout the year.  I manage his finances.. and my DH is his fixit man on call..   I usually send him things like a cookie gift set that he likes... but at this point.. he really needs very little from us.  When he had his dog.. those can be nice gifts too.. a new leash.. or cute dog toys.  Small food gift baskets are nice because he can even regift them if he likes.  His drawers are full of clothes.. many unworn still in packaging.. 

The time thing is good.. but it works best if the person giving is proactive about actualy following through instead of waiting for someone to ask.. who might not want to be a bother.

I could see for "younger" older folks.. maybe a membership to a museum... or zoo... or tickets to a theater show might be appreciated.

JRI's picture

My mom is 99 and in long term care.  It's almost impossible to gift her.  She used to like subscriptions to magazines but nowadays, most are online and she can barely work her landline much less a computer. 


classyNJ's picture

Thank you so much for sharing!  My mother is 79 and all she asks for is time with us.   

She does make a list for DH for things to do around the house and he makes sure those things are done (weather permitting) by March.  

She also likes the grocery store gift cards.  

We also pay for a lawn service that comes every 2 weeks to take care of her yard and garden.

Happy Holidays!

JRI's picture

If I adopt you, will you give us lawn service?  Lol.

Kes's picture

All good suggestions, JRI.  I am 65, and always happy with gifts of up to date framed photos of my daughters and grandchildren.  I can do without photos of the SDs, though! 

JRI's picture

Thanks, I forgot to mention that.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

Great post, JRI! Older/disabled folks really appreciate practical things. Help around the home/property would be amazing for us. And if you're on a fixed income, gift cards for gas, car washes, groceries, and restaurants are so helpful. Imagine how great it would be to have someone turn up on your doorstep and say "Hi! I'm here to wash your windows/trim your trees/mow your lawn." 

I used to give my mom gift cards for her local grocery store and the Kmart next door to it. Then Wal-Mart came to her small town, and she loved having extra $$ to shop there. Her local feed store offered gift certificates, and she liked getting those as well. 

CajunMom's picture

I'm going to be 61 in a few weeks and DH is 68. The kids always asks what we want. My favorite thing is updated photos of them and their partners. My daughter gave me a Sky Frame last year for Christmas and I love it. The kids can "drop" photos to my frame from anywhere in the world! I love seeing that little emblem "new photos." 

We are avid readers so my son has started giving us a book store gift card. I do love the idea of tickets to events or dinner gift cards. And these days, who wouldn't just love a grocery store gift card???? 

caninelover's picture

Some Whole Foods near us are like Disneyland for food.  But can't deal with the ticket prices for regular shopping.  If someone gave me a gift card though...I'd be in heaven Smile

NoWireCoatHangarsEVER's picture

I go to the bakery shop around the corner and get her fresh loaves of bread or baked goods.  I'll get her her favorite dessert like flan or bread pudding.  She has a new boyfriend, yall!!!!!!  She's on the second floor and he's on the third floor.  She likes to get dressed up and they go down to the dining hall together arm in arm.  I'm having Thanksgiving dinner with her at 12 on Thanksgiving day.  

JRI's picture

My mom, a very conservative widow, moved to an assisted living and I soon started hearing about Dennis.  Dennis this, Dennis that.  I couldnt believe what I was hearing!   Dinner with Dennis, driving Dennis to the barber shop, Dennis stopping by each morning for coffee.  I was tempted to laugh til I realized she was talking to me woman-to-woman.  When she had to move to the building that gave more care, she didnt see Dennis as much but then started eating with Walter.

Ladies, it's not over til its over.

caninelover's picture

Thanks JRI.  For my family, none of the 'adults' exchange gifts but we make sure to call on holidays.  SO usually sends his mother a Harry and David fruit basket, which she seems to enjoy.