Think practical and personal for senior holiday gifts this year

At this time of year, many children, grandchildren and friends struggle to come up with ideas for the seniors on their holiday gift lists. As people age, their tendency is to pare down their possessions, leaving gift givers searching for presents that won't create clutter or work for their senior loved ones.

"Seniors appreciate simplicity in their lives, with less of an emphasis on receiving material things for the holidays," said Ben Solomon, owner of the Seattle office of Right at Home. "Based on our experience, practical items seniors can use every day include homemade coupon books for sharing some quality-time activities as well as arranging for an extra helping hand around the house."

Right at Home is a national franchise organization, with a local office that serves the communities of central Seattle. The organization offers in-home supportive care to seniors and other adults to help them continue living independently.

According to Solomon, there are many products on the market specially designed to meet the needs of seniors: telephones and remote controls with large buttons, subscriptions to large-print versions of favorite magazines, cuddly lap blankets, soft-handled garden and kitchen tools, and gripping devices to help seniors reach items on high shelves. Additionally, some safety-themed gifts include smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, non-slip rugs and bath mats, flashlights, and fire extinguishers.

Solomon also advises personal, homemade gifts are perennially popular with seniors.

"Photo albums and scrapbooks can become treasured keepsakes," said Solomon. "Setting aside time to create them with your senior loved one serves to make the gift even more memorable. You can even bring along a tape recorder to develop an audio history as the story of each image or item is added to the pages."

Gifts of time, companionship, and assistance around the home are valuable to seniors as well.

"Families and friends that live nearby can offer to give rides around town, schedule time for working on crafts and hobbies together, liven up a living space with a fresh coat of paint, or offer to help with spring cleaning," said Solomon. "For time-crunched families or those that live at a distance, arranging for an in-home supportive care provider to come in for a few hours to help with household chores, hiring someone to shovel snow or mow the lawn, or paying for a grocery delivery service can take care of the tasks they wish they could [do on their own]."

However, according to Solomon, some of the most valuable things family members and friends can do for seniors cost nothing at all.

"This holiday season, we ask that people remember that patience, understanding, laughter, and the joy of their company are what matters to seniors the most," said Solomon. "The simple gift of time shared together is truly the one way to show a loved one you care."

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