by Jack Keenan, contributing writer
Not every great gift has a price tag. When it comes to gifts you can give seniors this holiday season, there are many no cost or low cost things you can do that will bring the elderly much happiness. Spending quality time with someone you care for is priceless! So here are some “gift of time” ideas that you can extend to older folks for the holidays.
- When visiting, bring along a deck of cards. Who doesn’t enjoy playing cards? Board games are also a hit, and it’s more than likely your senior friend will have a favorite. Besides bringing the senior in your life much joy, such interactions can also help with their cognitive function.
- Doing some scrap booking or arts and crafts is also an interesting way to not only pass the time, but to create some awesome things together! Cooking or baking is a favorite holiday activity for almost everyone. Just because someone is older doesn’t mean desire to enjoy food is gone — especially if that food prepared is prepared with a loved one. Make sure you bring along a few of the necessary items with you, such as disposable baking pan, measuring cup, recipes, etc. You don’t want to be wasting too much time going on a hunting expedition!
- How about bringing over some old baseball cards or magazines? Such nostalgia is sure to spark memories. You will probably hear some great stories about a long-gone era told in the first person.
- Music is also a great inducer of memories. Few forget the music they grew up with and loved. Often for Alzheimer’s patients, even when they remember very little, they can still remember song lyrics! You might inspire your friend to sing-a-long to some music. Engaging on that level with a senior citizen can be most rewarding for both of you.
- Watching an old movie together is certain to be a hit. Many old movies are timeless and relevant, making them enjoyable for you as well as your older friend or family member. Revisit a great holiday classic together, like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Miracle on 34th Street.”
- You can also find old radio programs to listen to via the Internet. Imagine the look on your senior friend’s face when he or she hears — once again — the words, “Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy!” or the haunting phrase, “The Shadow knows…”
- If getting out of the house is more desirable and the weather is hospitable, taking your friend shopping — to the mall or for something more practical, such as a trip to the supermarket — can be a destination. Taking a break at the local coffee shop can always “perk” up (pun intended) a person’s spirits. As a bonus, several coffee shops offer a senior citizen discount — a true win/win!
Most importantly, remember that your gift of time with a senior can be rewarding, rather not a burden. Seniors have much wisdom to share and tend to impart that wisdom to us in many different ways. We will all be seniors someday, God willing. When you give the gift of yourself, you’ll gain a gift in return. Enjoy the time together, and keep this in mind: It’s the thought and not the price of a gift that counts, especially for the elderly.