Wednesday, October 01, 2014
   
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It’s the thought that counts

Best gifts for seniors don’t come under the tree.

Everyone likes to give that perfect holiday gift.

Letters to Santa make children’s presents a little easier to choose but what about those for Grandma and Grandpa?

Because they usually have everything they need, Christmas shopping for older folks can seem next to impossible.

Really, though, it’s quite simple.

“The best gift of all is the gift of time,” says Tish Habe, social work director for Hilltop Estates. “It might mean reading devotions or playing the piano or simply sitting and holding someone’s hand. What older people want most is the gift of time.”

After 21 years doing social work for the elderly, Habe said it doesn’t matter if Grandma is in a nursing home or living on her own, the best types of Christmas gifts for elderly people are those that involve personal attention and time.

“It’s still true. It’s the thought that counts,” she said.

Family meals, either brought in or at a restaurant, mean more to older folks than imagined.

“Mostly what people want as they age is to be surrounded by those they love,” Habe said. “That doesn’t really have to cost very much.”

Food is always a good gift, as long as it meets any special dietary needs.

Jakah White of the Gothenburg Senior Center suggests meal tickets or gift certificates.

“Times are tough for a lot of people and especially those on fixed incomes,” White said. “Social Security just sometimes isn’t enough.”

So White suggests gift certificates for center meals or meals on wheels.

“A lot of people come here to eat for the social interaction as much as for the food,” White said.

Another idea, Habe said, is gift certificates for the beauty or barber shop for hair appointments or manicures.

“Life can get pretty lonely,” Habe said of nursing home residents or elderly living alone. “That extra touch or little bit of pampering can mean so much. It’s touch therapy.”

Technology has also provided other unique opportunities for special gifts for seniors.

Habe said digital photo frames are especially popular and new recordable books allow a familiar voice to tell a story.

Home videos with a personal message and even video phone calls can mean a lot when family members are far away.

“Depression runs deep, especially during the holiday season,” Habe said. “Families get busy with their own things and sometimes the elderly get left out. What they really want and the only thing they really need is someone to spend time with them.”

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