Shopping for gift-giving is not my “thing.” It is stressful trying to come up with the perfect gift for everyone on my list.
I try to be mindful of what the recipient might want, need or appreciate. For me, the hardest person to buy for is my almost 90-year-old grandma who lives in a one-room suite in a personal-care community.
Before I started shopping this year, I decided to ask a few of my colleagues from local Berks County living facilities their gift-giving suggestions.
Cold weather items such as blankets, heavier socks with nonskid bottoms, gloves, scarves and hats were on the top of everyone's suggestion list. Melissa Eberhart, director of admissions and marketing at Mifflin Court, Cumru Township, reminded me that as we age, we tend to be more “chilly,” so these are appreciated gifts. The fun factor can be amped up by choosing colorful patterns and luxurious textures.
Interestingly, some mundane items made the list, too. Practical items. such as boxes of tissues, soaps, lotion, night lights and beauty products, were mentioned by Katie Catchmark, executive director of The Manor at Market Square, 803 Penn St.
Catchmark said: “Residents often have limited income, coupled with the fact that it may be difficult to get out to shop or they lack the physical ability to carry bags of purchased items. While these ideas might not sound that exciting, they are practical and will be used. These are often items they have stopped buying for themselves.”
Clothing is always a good gift option, just make sure the garment is well chosen. If the recipient has shoulder mobility issues, consider shirts that button or zip, rather than garments that slip over the head. If the recipient requires assistance with dressing, items that easily slip over the head or open in the front are good choices. As for pants, elastic waist pants and sweatpants are highly recommended for comfort and dressing ease.
If families want to combine efforts and buy a group gift, suggestions included a subscription to the Reading Eagle or a large-print magazine; a one-year, paid-in-full personal emergency response unit, similar to Life Alert; or hiring an organizer to pare down possessions and make the living environment safer.
Time is a gift, too. Simply being present and sharing time is an idea that is often overlooked, and yet just might mean the most. Joy Hoffman, care navigator of independent living at the Lutheran Home at Topton. recommends gifts of time that might also offer an experience.
“Just going out for a meal, or a manicure, or to their favorite hair salon will be the highlight of their day,” Hoffman said..
All agreed that anything with personalized pictures is a sure winner. Digital picture frames preloaded with pictures, calendars and framed photos are all well-received and provide conversation points and opportunities to share and reminisce.
Be cautious of some gifts, though. Eberhart from Mifflin Court warns that “anything too high-tech or complicated to use might not be the best idea," she said. "Luxury appliances and upgraded cellphones can be hard for some people to figure out.”
Other items to leave off the gift list include open-flame candles, knickknacks, regular socks with no grip on the bottom and excessive seasonal decorations (these are difficult to store because of limited space). If giving any gifts of food, be mindful of diet restrictions. One surprising item that might not make the best gift is live plants.
Catchmark from Manor at Market Square said: “Plants die easily. Just days after the holidays, there are lots of sad-looking, droopy and dried-out plants.”
What am I getting my grandma for Christmas this year? So far I have purchased an easy on/off, button-front cardigan to keep her warm this winter. But don't tell her!