Each year, it is the same struggle to find a meaningful gift for my senior loved ones at Christmas. Their home is full of things accumulated over 51 years of marriage, which makes it even harder to find something to wrap and put under the tree.
After spending a weekend unsuccessfully searching stores for just the right gift, it dawned on me that I have a gold mine of gift suggestions right next to my office at the Munday Activity Center, which provides a variety of support and services for residents of our community who are age 60 and older. I stopped in the billiards room, and asked the gentlemen there one simple question: “If you could have anything you wanted for Christmas, what would it be?” All of them, without hesitation, boomed, “To spend time with my children and grandchildren!”
I honestly felt a little ashamed of myself. Could it really be that simple? Yes, of course! It’s what I want from my own children; why would it be any different for our seniors?
The truth is that during these years when we are busy raising children, we might think we are doing that, but today I stopped to think again. During the holidays, most of us rush around to see our parents, grandparents, and in-laws … but most of the time, we are just trying to “see” everyone. We aren’t “sharing” with everyone.
Seniors want our time. Their attics, basements, shelves and drawers are already full. The gifts they want most are the ones that fill their hearts! So put “time” at the top of your gift list for the seniors in your life!
Sometimes, though, we still want to give a gift that can be unwrapped, too! With that mind, here are some gift ideas that the men and women at the Munday Activity Center asked me to share with you.
1. Consider a gift card to a local restaurant – even better, make a commitment to go together.
2. Owensboro offers such great shows and concerts! Purchase tickets, maybe dinner, too, and go together.
3. Many seniors find time during retirement to take up a hobby. Support their interests with a gift of supplies, gift cards to hobby shops, or even lessons for a new hobby. Even better, if there’s a hobby you both enjoy, make time to do that together.
4. Fitness trackers are a great gift for any age! Staying fit during retirement is a great way to continue enjoying those years. Trackers are relatively inexpensive, and may even provide helpful information to the health care provider.
5. Fruit of the Month would be a fun, healthy gift your seniors can look forward to throughout the year! Nutrition is essential as we age; lack of proper nutrition can cause a multitude of health problems. Sometimes tight budgets and transportation issues can make it hard to go to the grocery – so a healthy treat delivered right to the door is especially appreciated!
6. If your senior is a nature lover, consider bird feeders, bird seed, mineral blocks or bags of corn for outdoor animals … and don’t forget toys and treats for family fur babies, too!
7. Weather stations are interesting and fun! There are a variety of inexpensive weather station systems that are made with seniors’ needs in mind. For example, look for one that offers an audible weather forecast at the press of a button, with easy-to-read displays.
8. Videos or pictures of you and your siblings, other family members and children are always treasured.
Gift-giving goes both ways! If you’re a senior and you’re struggling for gift ideas, I can tell you what I would like … and I bet your children and grandchildren feel the same way!
1. Make a video or audio recording, or write down all those stories your heart remembers so that I can pass those on. I would love to have the gift of forever hearing that story in your voice.
2. Recipes! Please, please, please, share with me those cherished favorite family recipes. Food triggers my happy place, and I can’t be the only one!
3. Take the time to label old family photographs so they can continue to be treasured and honored in the years to come.
The common theme shared by seniors at the Munday Activity Center was how hard the holidays are when families are apart. This season is a wonderful opportunity to reach out even beyond our own families! If you have an elderly friend or neighbor who will not be with their own family this Christmas, take a minute to call them and let them know you’re thinking of them. If possible, invite them to join your family gathering, or take a holiday meal to their home. Anything you can do to show someone you’re thinking of them would be tremendously appreciated, and that’s the best gift of all.
Dana Peveler is the Executive Director of the Munday Activity Center, which provides support, services and resources for people age 60 and older in Owensboro/Daviess County and the surrounding region. For more information, call 270-687-4640.