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Last-minute gift ideas for senior citizens

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[DEC. 22, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Looking for gift ideas for an older friend or relative? Here are a few suggestions from Illinois Department on Aging Director Charles D. Johnson.

"The best gifts for older people are those that say you understand the reality of getting older and that you respect the elder's needs and limitations," Johnson said. "The very best gift is the presence of family and friends in the life of an elder and practical assistance with everyday tasks."

According to Johnson, the best gifts are something an older person can actually use. He suggested gift coupons from a restaurant or beauty shop regularly frequented by the older person, stationery, a selection of greeting cards, subscriptions to favorite newspapers and magazines -- in large type, if possible. Most older people would also appreciate help with shopping, chores or a special meal on a regular basis.

"One family told me that they give their grandmother handmade coupons that promise a weekly meal, regular help with handling insurance forms and yard work. I cannot think of a better way to help," he said.

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If money is a problem for the elder on fixed income, Johnson suggested gift certificates from a local grocery store or pharmacy, postage stamps, or a subscription to cable or satellite TV for a year. Other practical gift ideas are a large-faced alarm clock that "talks" or projects the time, easy-grip can and jar openers, the installation of grab bars or other safety features for the bathroom, and nonskid shoes with Velcro fasteners.

But the best gift of all is the acknowledgment of the older person's past contributions.

"A simple 'thank you' can go a long way," Johnson added.

[Illinois Department on Aging news release]

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