Have you ever agonized over what gift to give your mom or dad or elderly relative? If you’re like most of us, then the answer is: Yes. I remember so clearly wondering what to buy, so I put it off because I didn’t know—and Bob, (my former father-in-law who I cared for) already had everything, not to mention that he didn’t do much of anything, so what could I possibly give? I would give anything now if I had just one more birthday or holiday to shop for him. Sometimes lessons come to us when it’s too late.
I am here to tell you—it doesn’t matter. Stop agonizing and enjoy the process of giving a gift to someone you love. It doesn’t matter if your gift never gets used. It doesn’t matter if you don’t receive accolades for the gift. What matters is the giving. What matters is a beautifully wrapped gift which speaks LOVE.
Here’s a list of great gifts that will make a difference.
- Find a photo from your loved one’s past. Have it cleaned up and framed. Memories create happy moments.
- Give a beautiful hankie to a grandmother.
- Give a tie to grandpa. A tie says, “We’re going somewhere fancy one day soon.” Make sure you actually make arrangements for the tie to be worn. Follow through.
- Give a music box with a favorite song. DVDs of movies from their past create hours of peaceful afternoons.
- CDs of favorite music – or better yet, create a CD especially for your loved one with all his/her most loved music.
- Make a basket of favorite treats or, better yet, have your children bake something special.
- Give a digital voice recorder and encourage the senior to tell his/her Life Story.
What the holidays mean to elders
Holidays are critical in a senior’s life. Holidays conjure up all kinds of memories and can send someone into a downward spiral or, worse, into a deep depression if not handled with sensitivity.
Memories can be an especially sensitive issue. They have the ability to be wonderfully moving if the senior is encouraged to share memories and experiences. However, if the senior is made to feel like his/her memories don’t matter, a feeling of isolation can take over. Try not to let this happen. The more you can involve your loved one in holiday celebrations, the better.
When someone reaches true maturity, it’s not the things—it’s the thought. It’s the moments with the family. It’s the treasure of being with loved ones. The caregiving journey allows you to create moments and memories that will be cherished. Creating moments is what our life is all about. Make them special.
A former caregiver, Cindy Laverty is the Founder of The Care Company, and host of The Cindy Laverty Show, the nation's only commercial radio program dedicated to the subject of CARE - how we care for ourselves, so we can better care for each other. Cindy is an advocate and coach for America's family caregiver. For more information, read her full biography.