Senior Beat
By Carol Higgins Taylor
Eastern Area Agency on Aging

Thanksgiving is behind us, the leftovers are but a memory, so the time has come to give serious thought to brushing up on Christmas carols and hording sales flyers.

Times are tough, no doubt about it. People on fixed incomes will feel the pinch a bit harder this year. Fuel prices and food prices are steadily rising.

Still, giving a gift to someone you care about is about much more than the gift itself. The old adage of “it is much better to give than to receive” is true.

That said, shopping can be stressful, especially when there is a person on the list for whom purchasing a gift can be challenging.

Here are some ideas that may put a smile on your senior’s face:

• Think about a large, pretty wall calendar that is personalized. Tell the giftee to pick one day each month when he or she would like to go out to eat or have a visit. Then follow through and the senior is assured of having company and perhaps a good meal at least monthly. It is something to look forward to. You can kick this gift up a notch by circling family birthdays and anniversaries and personalizing it with family photos.

• Sometimes it is worrisome that a senior might be lonely, and while pets are a tremendous source of comfort and companionship, never give a pet to someone unless you are absolutely certain the person wants one and is able to properly care for it. But for someone who already has a pet, send along a treat for the furry friend as well. Check with the person to see what the pet likes for toys and treats. A gift certificate for a veterinarian visit also might be appreciated.

• As we head into winter and face storms, think about assembling a disaster preparedness starter kit for your aging loved one. Emergency blankets which reflect body heat and are very inexpensive, a heavy duty flashlight with extra batteries, first aid kit, and a whistle to signal for help would be a good beginning. Include a list of other suggestions, too, so the kit may be completed.

• A decorative gift basket of favorite goodies makes for a pretty presentation but is also practical. For example, does your senior love really good coffee but wouldn’t spend their money on such as “extravagance?” Grab a pound and include a mug emblazoned with the grandchildren’s photos for a gift that is very personal. Maybe include favorite snacks and a grocery store gift card.

• Speaking of gift cards for other things, such as gasoline, can come in handy. And because medications are expensive, a gift certificate to the senior’s preferred pharmacy would be much appreciated.

• Think about a large-print address book. Then you can help the senior transfer all of the information from the old book. It could spark some interesting memories making for a fun afternoon of reminiscing and conversation.

Holidays can be depressing for people who are alone. If you know someone who could use an outing, give him or her the best gift of all — an invitation to have a meal with you and your family.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. For information, call 941-2865, 800-432-7812 or go to