Gift Ideas for Seniors | Sometimes the best holiday present is just your presence

Written by Contributor. Posted in Featured, Senior Living

Published on December 02, 2020 with No Comments

by Steve Euvino

What do you get Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas? Better yet, what are you getting for your folks this season?

Buying gifts for older adults can be challenging. On the one hand, you’re used to buying them the same thing each year, like some fleece sweats to walk around the house for her or some white socks for him. On the other hand, maybe they’d like something different. Or, even more daunting, maybe they don’t want anything.

From my experiences as a 66-year-old, people reach an age at which they have all they need, and they really don’t want or need any more clutter. Then, again, it’s Christmas, remember?

I remember when my father died in October of 2007. The six kids tried to figure out what how we’d celebrate Christmas with my mother, minus her spouse of nearly six decades. Plus, by then my mother was dealing with dementia. She had her good days, as well her not-so-good days.

Christmas was always special around our house, with the opening of presents on Christmas Eve, dinner, and then getting ready for midnight Mass (which actually started with carols at 11). Mom loved to cook, and as a good ethnic mother, she’d always cook for an army but expected more. Thanks to whipped cream containers, of which my mother had many, there was always something to take home.

But this Christmas was going to be different. My father was gone, and my mother was in no state to cook. Still, we wanted to have some kind of gathering. I told my siblings this was probably going to be Mom’s last Christmas – which it was – and asked them to please try to make it home, if they could. I also stressed this – no gifts. Your presence is your present.

As it turned out, some of the family made it into town and it was a nice Christmas. My sister set up a small tree and heated up a tray of Market Day mini-quiches. No one mentioned the ‘G’ (as in gifts) word, and the evening proceeded. My mother was in a good mood, and we just spent the evening reminiscing about the good old days in Gary and just generally chatting.

Four months later, my parents were reunited.

After Mom died, I was unofficially put in charge of cleaning out their basement. It was no easy task, considering my parents were part of that post-Depression, World War II generation. They not only kept everything, but, as I learned, they often did not open everything they got. Inside one box were unopened Christmas gifts. So much for Elizabeth Taylor’s Diamonds and Estee Lauder Youth Dew fragrances.

Since then, my siblings and I have decided: no gift exchanges. We’ve tried to get together over the years, which gets tougher with age and distances and now COVID-19. But we stay in touch and wish each other well. To me, those emails are my Christmas present, and I cherish them.

Around 2008, when the economy went into the tank, I read a column that stated that during crises, people focus on what’s truly important in their lives. It’s not so much material items as those things’ money cannot buy, such as memories, friendships, and companionship.

This Christmas to be another of those times for us to choose what really matters in life.


Gift ideas for those seniors on your shopping lists

For those of you brave enough to take on the holiday shopping crowds or who shop online, here are a few suggestions for holiday gifts for seniors, courtesy of Woman’s Day and

Brain games – Crossword puzzles, word searches (large type), and sudoku books are good ways to energize the brain and keep seniors active.

Non-slip socks – These are good any time of the year, but especially during the colder winter months.

Massage pillows or throw blankets – A heated massage pillow that attaches to an armchair can make life cozy. Blankets help people when they’re relaxing, reading, or watching TV.

Memory or keepsake journal – Journals can enable seniors to recall special or memorable moments in their lives, such as marriage, children, and work history.

Home-cooked meals in portions – Here’s a gift that a senior can use all at once or in heat-and-eat portions.

Charitable donations – Does your senior have a special charity? You can donate financially to that charity or you can donate your time in the senior’s name.

Photo album – Seniors have photos – lots of them – and an album not only gives seniors to do, but it can organize all those images in one spot. Plus, it’s fun to look at old photos and remember how everyone looked at one time.

Nativity scene – Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Your senior may already have a creche, but perhaps it’s seen its better days. Maybe the senior has moved to a smaller location and does not have room for all those figures. Nativity scenes come in a variety of styles and sizes, including PVC board, Matryoshka-style dolls, lighting from LED candles, painted hand-stained wood, wire, and steel.

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