"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.
Department on Aging news release]