What can we give Grandma?

My mom lived out the last few years of her life in a nursing home. The question, "What can we give Grandma?" was one I would hear every year about this time.

I knew that Mom loved chocolate, playing Bingo and word find puzzles. A rare debilitating disease had robbed her of her fine motor skills and her speech. So much for Bingo and puzzles. With each passing month, it became more and more difficult for her to swallow. So much for giving a box of chocolates.

Even without physical limitations, it can be a real chore figuring out what to get our elderly relatives. In my mom's case, I could buy her a new nightie and she loved getting new tops (clothes tend to get lost in a nursing home.) Another good choice seemed to be body wash that the staff would use for her shower and body lotions as the air is often dry during the winter months.

But beyond clothes or personal care items, what can we get to give grandparents, and older aunts and uncles who don't want or need any more "stuff?"

An article in The Toronto Star has some answers. Reporter Trish Crawford says that what our seniors really want is more time with us. Some suggestions from the article:

Spend an afternoon with Grandma, putting her family photos in an album. (You could supply the photo album.)

Give Tim Horton's gift certificates to your uncle, then go to the coffee shop with him.

Get all of the generations together for a family portrait and frame it.

Just be there. Spend some time reminiscing. This was an awkward one for my family, as the conversation was decidedly one-sided, but you knew she appreciated the visit by her smile, the light in her eyes and the way she would maneuver her wheelchair up to you as close as she could so she could touch your hand.

The Star article lists a lot more gift suggestions. They include:
  • Gift certificates to restaurants and grocery stores or gas cards for people who still drive.
  • Books and magazine subscriptions.
  • Towels and washcloths (This is another good gift for someone in a nursing home).
  • Stamps and stationery.
  • Pay fees for fitness or other courses they would like to attend.
  • Take them to a movie or a museum.
  • Pay for visits to a beauty parlor, massage or other specialty service.
Many of these are from people who work with seniors on a daily basis. So, if you're stumped for ideas on what to give older relatives, check out Grandpa doesn't want another necktie at The Star.com. As someone who's "been there," this article answers the question, "What can we give Grandma?" perfectly.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. She writes ideas and tips for home decorating using only items from the dollar store. Marlene is also the author a new Ebook, Christmas-Dollar Store Style, which shows you how to decorate, entertain and make beautiful gifts using only items from the dollar store.
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