The Best Gift

December 9, 2022

grandmother with two grandchildren boy and girl exchanging gifts

It’s not even black Friday and in fact I’m sure Halloween was just last a few days ago. However, people, places and things are gearing up for holiday shopping. If the person you’re thinking of is considered an “Older Adult” by AARP, Medicare or some other entity responsible for the category, you may want to consider “the best gift”. If you are an older person yourself or others consider you “older”, you like me, are reluctant to ask for any sort of help. After all weren’t we all taught to be independent and able to stand on our own two feet? Unfortunately, depending on where we are in the older age category, our feet may not be as stable as they once were, our eyes not as bright, our driving not as sharp and our memory not as reliable. Of course you may be exception to the rule. But if you have a secret Wish List or someone asks what you want, you may want to hand them the following suggestions:

Here’s what an older adult probably won’t ask for but would like:

  • An unexpected visit from you not to do chores but to come by and visit for one hour and not hurry.
  • A handwritten letter that you’ve written with a favorite memory that you share.
  • A copy of a recipe that you think this person might like to try or…better yet, the recipe and a taste.
  • A phone call from you (in person) just to “check in”. Although texts, e mail and Facebook posts are popular, it’s very nice to actually hear the person’s voice.
  • A funny antidote about a recent experience that you know this person would appreciate.
  • A poem that you feel the person would like.
  • A trip through a drive through for coffee or a “burger”.
  • Cookies fresh out of the oven.
  • Cleaning out their car or taking the car to a detail shop as a gift.
  • Offering to take their car in for service so they don’t have to.
  • Buying an iPod with ear buds and compiling a “play list” of music particular to the person’s era & tastes.
  • Encouraging grandchildren to phone “Grandma & Grandpa” to tell them about a recent event.
  • Inviting grandparents to a grandchild’s event i.e., holiday concert, 4-H event, athletic tournament.
  • Recommendation for a movie that you’ve seen that you think the older person would enjoy.

When my children were younger, they loved to make and give “gift certificates” particularly when it didn’t involve money (they didn’t have any) but gave of their time to the special loved one. The coupons below aren’t completely free but take more time than money.

Make & Give coupons for:

  • One free ride to the market.
  • One free ride to the movies (with 2 tickets included).
  • One free ride for 2 hours (you’ll drive); they’ll ride.
  • One lunch date (Dutch treat).
  • Walking the dog .
  • Planting spring bulbs i.e., daffodils.
  • Two hours to help with cleaning the garage or cleaning out the refrigerator.
  • Taking off/putting on quilts or comforter.
  • Changing the couch in the living room to a different place.
  • Cleaning out the chimney & woodstove.
  • Bringing in wood if heating with a wood stove/fireplace.
  • Cleaning out the gutters or arranging to have it done.
  • One weekly phone call they can count on each week.

Are you old enough to remember the phrase, “It’s the thought that counts.”? We can make our own list. We can share with each other the kindness and goodness that the season brings out the best and….by all means keep the list handy in case someone asks!

Carol S. Heape, MSW, CMC, is Founder/CEO of Elder Options, Inc. and by most definitions is an older adult. Serving the Sacramento Region since 1988.