That’s a question that many adult children and grandkids consider when thinking about the family elders on their holiday gift lists.
Here are some sincere suggestions from someone who works in support services, which helps to provide care management and advocacy to our community’s more challenged seniors.
Many aged women and men live alone, are frail and homebound, and think that people and life have pretty much forgotten about them.
Now, I know many of our valley’s seniors have devoted family members who give their all to ensure their elderly loved ones are as safe, comfortable and loved as possible. But some do not. To those kin, I ask: Please do more to gift Mom/Dad or Grams/Gramps with you. Forget about quickly coming by in between parties bearing wrapped slippers and dried fruit. They need so much more …
Generously give them the most precious commodities of all, your time, your intentional physical and emotional presence, undivided attention, hugs and reminiscences of good times. Add in how special they are to you and integral to your own growth and success in life. If finances are tough for them, maybe throw in gift cards for something as simple yet vital as groceries and prescriptions. Perhaps provide a certificate for getting their abodes professionally cleaned. That would be a luxury. Old arthritic backs and hands are agonizing (and exhausting) tools for running vacuums and scrubbing toilets.
Lest I forget, gift them with a conversation that focuses on how they are REALLY doing, feeling, viewing their life – and what can be done to help them out. Many old folks abhor the thought of burdening their families with complaints or looking like they’re needy, but many of them could sorely use some loving concern and strategic plans for improving matters.
From working inside senior care management, I know that many family back-histories have been complex to say the least. Not all childhoods were all that memorable and glowing. Not all parents were Ozzie and Harriet. But try to let that go. Even Ozzie and Harriet were not perfect (or real). Many old moms and dads sit alone today with regrets. Please have mercy. Many younger adults have not even made their biggest mistakes in life yet. We are all human.
These are gifts that cannot be found on Amazon – only in your heart. I guarantee most every senior navigating their oft-lonely and difficult late-life journey will beam from receiving them for a long time to come. It might even improve their mental and physical health.
While you’re at it, kindly consider supporting the SCV Senior Center at Bella Vida. For over 40 years, this local nonprofit has provided free and invaluable programs and services to our community’s seniors. That gift will help to ensure the availability of its wonderful activities, enriching programs, meals-on-wheels, a day program for seniors with dementia, support services and other critical resources.
Your gift will also help carry this big ship well into your own (potentially) rough waters one day. Oh, I know, that’s hard to imagine before you even qualify for a senior discount. But please understand that one of the most bankable realities of life — besides death and taxes — is that some very serious adaptations and heart-wrenching paradigm shifts often accompany one’s older years. Our seniors need us.
Wishing everyone happy and healthy holidays and 2024.