One of the questions I get most often is, “What kind of gift can I get for my elder loved one’s birthday, etc.? They don’t seem to need anything.” By the time most of us reach the age where we qualify for senior discounts and Medicare, we usually have collected all the “things” that we need and/or want. And we now are starting to look at organizing, downsizing and minimizing all of our “things.”
So while your heart is in the right place, that nice art deco vase or the Impressionist painting probably isn’t the best choice any more. And if your senior loved one is anything like mine, when you ask them what they would like for their birthday, etc., the answer is something along the lines of, “Oh, we don’t need anything.” But human nature being what it is, we just can’t seem to arrive at the party without bearing a gift of some sort. And what if your loved one is living in or moving to a senior living community with much smaller accommodations? They most likely already have downsized and probably don’t need much more in their living space.
Here are some ideas that I have either used for the seniors in my life or recommended to family members of seniors and of the residents in my senior living community. Instead of picture frames for the wall or photo albums, how about scanning all of their favorite pictures (and yours) and loading them onto a digital photo frame? Your loved one will be able to enjoy their photos without lugging out the albums or trying to figure out which ones to display.
Remember all those great home movies of family get-togethers and fun times? Why not put them on a DVD for your loved one to enjoy and reminisce? One of my favorites is a “this is me” type of scrapbook with pictures, scrapbook goodies about their hobbies, etc. This is particularly good for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
For family members still in their own home, a gift of yard work, maid service, meal preparation or “rent-a-handyman” could be useful and help ease the burden of having to do those chores themselves. How about a certificate for dinner followed by a movie, complete with transportation provided? The possibilities are endless. Take a look at their lifestyle, pay attention to the little details, listen to the conversations and the ideas will come to you.
“I’m on a fixed income and would like to earn some extra money, but don’t want to commit to a regular work routine. Any suggestions?” Think about the things you enjoy or the skills you possess. Do you enjoy children or pets? You could look at being a pet sitter/walker or a “rent-a-grandparent” for a family with children. Check with your local schools about becoming a tutor.
Have a hobby or musical talent that you particularly enjoy and would like to share with others? Ask your local senior center and other organizations about becoming a paid instructor. Many home health agencies always are on the lookout for folks to be a senior companion for their clients.
Are you computer savvy? Ebay and other auction sites can be a great source of additional income. Just about everybody has things that they no longer need or want that could be turned into cash.
Were you a successful professional during your working career? You could look at turning your experience and knowledge into being a consultant for businesses in your area. Keep in mind that some cities and locales may require a business license for particular types of income-producing endeavors.
Share yourself with others by becoming a volunteer. You could become involved in your community by being a greeter at your local visitors bureau or at the senior center. If you enjoy the outdoors, many parks and community gardens are in need of volunteers.
Senior living communities always are looking for volunteers to entertain, visit, read, share a hobby and more. Want to meet others who share similar interests or want to learn something new? Take a dance class, learn yoga or Zumba, learn how to play the piano, take a class at the local college. You even could enjoy a few nice meals at local senior living communities. Most of us would love to have you come check out our place, have a good meal and maybe meet some new friends.
If you have questions, need help in finding a resource, want to get pointed in the right direction, I look forward to hearing from you.
As you now may have realized, I am an advocate for Alzheimer’s and support the efforts to raise funds for research to help end this disease.
I am a steering committee member for the Olympic Peninsula Annual “Walk To End Alzheimer’s” on Sept. 17 in Bremerton and the team captain for our walking team, the Discovery Trailblazers. As such, we are in the final dash of our fundraising efforts and are looking for the support of the community.
Our biggest fundraiser this month will be the spaghetti feed and silent auction from 5-8 p.m. Aug. 25 at Discovery Memory Care, 408 W. Washington St., Sequim.
Be sure to join us for good food, great people and a chance to bid on some cool items. If you have an item or service that you would like to donate for the auction, call or e-mail me (phone and e-mail listed at end of column).
The Discovery Trailblazers through the Alzheimer’s Association are selling raffle tickets for the chance to win a seven-day Holland America Line cruise for two. Tickets are available at Discovery Memory Care.
We also have paper Forget-Me-Not remembrance flowers that, for a donation, you can write in your name or the name of a loved one and have it displayed on our remembrance wall. All proceeds benefit the Alzheimer’s Association research and support efforts. The Discovery Trailblazers will be happy to accept your donation either in person or by mail. We also have sponsorship spots still available. Please contact me for more information. Thank you for your support!
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