Well, those calendar pages are turning and the holidays will soon be here. Did you know that some gifts are not only wonderful to receive but also make senior living in Knoxville simply easier?
Some people don’t know what to get a loved one who is in a senior care facility. One of the most important things to remember is that often many of their likes and dislikes have not changed drastically since they have moved there. So if your great aunt always loved to read murder mysteries and her favorite treat was a big cup of Earl Grey tea, then quite likely these are things she still enjoys.
But there are gifts you can give that help to make senior living a bit easier and brighter. And I know if you could make someone’s day even more enjoyable, well, then you would do it! So here are some great gift ideas to make that senior loved one grin from ear to ear this holiday season. Not to worry, I’m going to let you take all of the credit!
Good Eats & Companionship
Giving a gift certificate to a restaurant is an excellent choice. Many seniors look forward to getting out of their care facilities for the day when they can.
If you give a restaurant gift certificate, try to keep in mind that your loved one’s diet may have changed as they have aged. If they have dentures, they have to be gentle when they chew things. If they have diabetes, they can’t have sweet desserts. The best choice in many cases is simply to be direct if you are uncertain and to ask “Where do you like to go out for a great meal?”
Apple Cake Tea Room
11312 Station West Drive
A Fun Outing
You likely know your senior loved one better than any of us. And not everything has a gift certificate available. Sometimes what is needed is for you to make that extra effort, to spend the day with them and to take them on an outing to do that activity that they’ve always enjoyed.
Perhaps they like to go to a ballgame or to see a classic black and white film with buttered popcorn. Or to eat a hotdog at their favorite place, something that they just don’t get to do anymore.
So ask them what that favorite thing is that they want to do in Knoxville and help make it happen for them.
I’m going to suggest a gift idea that is terrific but may not have occurred to you. The gift of a massage. Many seniors are touch deprived. When you live in a senior care facility you may not be hugged or touched regularly the way you would be at home. Giving someone the gift of a massage is a very thoughtful gift. Massage has been shown to reduce the feeling of chronic pain, reduce stress and improve many health conditions.
Tennessee School of Massage
4716 Western Avenue
Live Music & Shows
Entertainment can be a wonderful gift to give a loved one. Research has shown that long-term we value experiences we have had much more than we do objects that we have. So unless your senior relative or friend has expressed a desire for something specific for the holidays, getting tickets to see a show or music could be the perfect gift.
If you do, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. First consider the weather. Older people often find it uncomfortable to be outside when it is too cold. Look at the long range forecast and plan your outing when it is comfortable outside.
Daytime or early evening activities are often far easier than nighttime. Most senior care facilities serve dinner at 5pm and residents can turn in at 8pm or even earlier for some.
Choosing live music or theatre can be a lot of fun if you do it right. Remember to select a place that is handicapped accessible if this is needed. If your senior has trouble walking, try to get there early to drop them off in front so you can park the car and walk to the entrance to meet them. Plan ahead so your senior loved one has the best time enjoying the experience.
If your Mom or Grandma has always been proud of her “new ‘do” then a gift certificate to a beauty salon is an excellent choice. Now many care facilities do have beauty and barber services as part of their care for residents. But to try something new is a real treat she or he would enjoy.
10412 Kingston Pike
Our society has changed in many ways, and the shift in the role of grandparent is one that has been hitting hard in the boomer generation. Where most baby boomers lived in a community where their grandparents lived right down the road and were a part of their daily lives, today’s families are far-flung, leaving grandparents wondering what to do in order to make sure that they are fully engaged with their brilliant, adorable grandchildren who live hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
If you’re a grandparent whose grandchildren live too far for a quick hop in the car, there’s no reason to fear a loss of closeness… you just need to be more creative. Remember that there are plenty of families whose kids live around the corner but who rarely see each other. It’s all about the relationship and the effort that you put into it, and fortunately technology, modern communication tools and even faster and more reliable mail services have made long-distance grandparents feel just as close as if they lived right next door. Here are some of our top tips for how to excel as long-distance grandparents.
• Skype, Skype, Skype. No matter how many other clever ideas we offer, there is just nothing that beats Skype (or Facetime) for putting you right into the center of the action whenever you want. The other day our family had a baby naming that the baby’s aunt and uncles were unable to attend because they were in Atlanta. They all got together in one house and were a part of the ceremony via a laptop set up in a circle of chairs in the living room. We had emailed over a reading for them, so they were truly a part of the family event. Grandparents can take part in this technology on laptops, smart phones and tablets that allow a child to walk them up to see their new bedspread or attend their soccer match, just as if they are there. You can even read them a bedtime story or sing the a lullaby in real time, right before they go to sleep.
• Age –appropriate stationary is a great gift for kids. Whether you go with blank postcards and a set of markers for little ones to color or something more sophisticated for older kids, pre-address them to yourself and stamp them for kids to send you news, private thoughts, and of course, art work for your fridge.
• Missing a birthday party? Celebrate an unbirthday when you’re there. If your planned trip to visit (or theirs to visit you) doesn’t coincide with a favorite holiday or birthday celebration, schedule one anyway. How much fun is it for a child to have their grandparent make them an unbirthday cake and give unbirthday presents at an unbirthday celebration? This can become a favorite tradition that your grandchildren look forward to as part of every visit.
• Disposable cameras are a great way for kids to share their everyday lives. They’ll feel so important, walking around and documenting their day, and it’s easy enough for you to send it along with a pre-addressed, stamped envelope for them to send it back to you. They can photograph their school trips, their sleepover, or any other event that you wish you could be there for. Make sure you’re sending them the same types of pictures so that they get an idea of what your life looks like too!
• Read a book together. Form your own club where the two of you are reading a book every month and then reporting back. Your grandchild will look forward to seeing what you’ve chosen, and as they get older you’ll find that the love of reading you’ve instilled will benefit them in their academic lives too. The best part is when they get old enough to choose books that they want to send to you!
• There’s nothing old-fashioned about getting mail. Kids feel special when they come home from school and there’s a letter there for them to read, so make sure that you take the time to pick out funny cards or use special stationary to send them newsy notes meant just for them.
There are a lot of things that go into choosing where a family member is going to live when they need more-than-occasional medical care. Their spiritual needs, preferred past times, the level of care they need and other things will help you and your family member decide if an assisted living apartment is right for them or if a different facility would be better.
Assisted Living and Dementia
If your family member suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia, you have even more things to think about than whether or not a facility has a salon or regular games of Mah-Jong. You need to know the skill level of everyone associated with the apartment facility and you have to know that the facility is safe. One of my relatives recently spent two days in the hospital with severe burns because she got out and walked around in the sun for several hours. It’s crucially important that, when it comes to dementia and Alzheimer’s that everyone involved knows how to properly care for your family member.
Affording Assisted Living Apartments
Unfortunately, finding the right facility can be expensive, and it may take every bit of Medicare and Health Savings Plan to pay for it. It might be worth it to ask other family members if they could chip in on the cost instead of giving birthday or Christmas gifts. One friend of mine decided to reach out to her entire network and set up a GoFundMe account to try to pay for her father’s living and medical expenses all in one fell swoop.
Her family ended up sharing the link via social media, and not only did family members pitch in, but so did their friends, and their friend’s friends, and even some strangers chipped in. The campaign ended up raising over $200,000, which gave my friend a comfortable cushion when figuring out care and other things for her dad.
Stay tuned for more of my musings on this. Considering I have several people to plan for, it’s difficult to get my mind around it sometimes. I’ll share what I learn in the hope that you can benefit from my crazy life.