Friday, December 5, 2008


This is a long one so if it's not for you, just skip down to the next post.  Many varied ideas are below. 

For those who have parents living long lives, but have become the hardest to buy for... Many can't do their old hobbies, may have lost abilities to see, hear or get around... or remember much.

I'll try to span the range of those here -- I hope something here is right for your loved one.

Bird feeders... or a six month supply of bird seed which can be quite expensive for older folks but the return is great. Not only can it give them something to do -- filling feeders, and give a little exercise, the joy of watching them come and visit can fill many an idle hour.

Lighted slippers:
Well, to avoid tripping at night, your toe pressure triggers the led lights.  Just the thing for someone...  $39.00 at or  CLICK HERE

Pillows and Wedges and Support, oh my. Well, let's face it, staying comfortable is what it's all about as time marches on. And for those who are forced to sit a lot or lie in bed, that can cause more problems. It really helps to have props to keep fragile bones in alignment and protect skin from bearing too much weight. Good for any age though. Maybe you need them too after all you're doing. CLICK Relax the Back and the Back Store as well as Brookstone and Tempurpedic stores (found at most malls) to find good pillows, support for legs, propping up in bed (good for sleep apnea and acid reflux sufferers of any age as well!)

Body Massagers:
Prices run the gamut but at these same stores you can find leg massagers, back massagers, total massage chairs or full - body pods. For the $399 leg/calf/foot massager shown CLICK HERE --it's a page from Brookstone showing a lot of choices.

There are far more affordable vibrating foot baths, neck appliances, etc. If they are not offered at these stores, just google and see what you find. TIP: If you need to, check consumer reports on them, or read customer reviews if they are offered. You can find reviews by googling and put the word "review" in quotes + the item you want to read about.

How about getting them 100% cotton sheets of a 250 thread count or more. Many older folks have never experienced the luxury of them, and natural fabrics are so much kinder to sensitive skin. Egyptian cotton is even better. Watch it for the ones called Sateen. They can be wonderful for some, but too slippery for others. Good flannel can be nice for cold weather people, as long as they are not having night sweats. A good alternative to that is "tee shirt" cotton sheets, soft as flannel but not hot. Get a color where accidents won't be so apparent and washing will make them good as new. These can be found at a discount at Marshalls, Kohls, Walmart, as well as Bed Bath and Beyond. Feel and read labels before you buy.

ALL ROUND GOOD PLACE: Does your loved one have sensitive skin, too wide or tender tootsies, need circulation assistance, need to sleep in pure fabrics, want a bra that fastens in front, need undies that give the right protection and fit? The Vermont Country Store offers a huge selection of undergarments, sleepwear, slippers, socks, cozy throws, shawls, even lotions and potions. Not to mention a vast array of delicious sugar free candies in case the person you are gifting would like some of that in their stocking.

This little country store which I've been to many times has items from all over the world and a lot of nostolgic sundries and toys. You'll find things here that you won't come across an
ywhere else. www.

Magnifying Medicine Labels --This is a clip on magnifier to make sure that all important print is easily read. $7.99 at the Container Store or CLICK HERE.

Zapi toothbrush sanitizers -- a new little egg shaped gadget that virtually rids a toothbrushof germs between uses (7 minutes). Uses 3 AAA batteries. $29.99 at Container Store or CLICK HERE

Extra Large Remote by Sharper Image -- if it's not a huge hassle to program it (you all
keeping it simple is key for this age group), this glows in the dark telephone etc... While it can control up to 8 different devices, probably best to keep it just to the TV or maybe add the VCR/Tivo for your dad. Only $19.99 @ Bed Bath and Beyond.

Anything with extra large anything is good for older eyes. There are also Telephones with larger keys or audio up to 60 decibels. You can even find attachments that can giggle the bed or armchair or the lights when the phone is ringing. Amazing what they've come up with these days!

CLICK HERE for 60 decibel phone with large black keys and white numbers (better contrast) ON SALE at writing for $139 from $159.

CLICK HERE for just phone with large keys (pictured) $39

CLICK HERE for the lamp flasher attachment ON SALE at time of writing at $39. from $49

Extra Loud Alarm Clock with big digital numbers CLICK HERE

Alarm Clock with Bed Shaker-Waker (is that a good thing, or a scary I'm-a-burglar thing? Depends on your loved one's disposition): CLICK HERE

Both alarms ON SALE at time of writing $59 from $69 .... or check them all out/find more at

Snuggly Throw/footies: Simply the softest (microtec), warmest throw in a very nice box with a matching pair of snuggly sox (that have barely visible little rubber skid dots on the bottom). Many lovely colors. A nice thing for Mom or Grandma. $29.99 @ Bed Bath and Beyond

Car Emergency Kit -- Good for anyone, but if your loved one is still driving or lives where there is snow or hurricanes/earthquakes etc, rest easier knowing this is in their trunk. Now on sale for $39 (save $30) at or make up one of your own and put it in a backpack (best with side water holders) with their name, and your phone number in indellible SHARPIE
on it.

I think DR. Scholls makes white and black socks good for circulation probs, sore tootsies or diabetics. This is a geriatric sounding gift, but hey, if this can ease suffering a bit, what greater gift could there be? There are many brands if you Google, but I've tried Scholls -- CLICK HERE

Oh yes, they can have candy. In a pinch, any CVS or Walgreens, Russell Stover has both hanging bags of everything from Reeces to turtles to Mints as well as boxed chocolates, which is a more formal gift. There are some sugarless sections of the big candy stores in the malls too.

The Vermont Country Store has a vast array of gourmet chocolates too. CLICK HERE

Lastly, there are some grocery stores (especially health food stores and places like Whole Foods or Wild Oats) that offer sugar free baked goods --chocolate and blueberry muffins, angel food cake, etc. You may also be able to bake some yourself with recipes found on the internet. A word of caution. While you can bake with Splenda, and it says on the big yellow bag that it's suitable for diabetics, do your research to be sure.

If they have a CD player (I bought my dad one of those boom boxes with a CD player in it for $29 from Best Buy) there are great things on CD like "Great Speeches of the 20th Century" (check it out on Barnes and Noble/Amazon) or Lake Wobegone or tapes from the old radio shows that they might love to hear again. Or songs from WWII or Big Bands. Often these are the times they can still remember... and I've seen it put a smile on the face of someone with little memory, and perk up a sleepy or depressed person in seconds.

If their minds are sharp, I happen to love the books on CD written by Will and Ariel Durant after they spent their lives compiling their famous History of Civilization Series. Titles such as Heroes of History, The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time are good starters. They also have more complex books called The Story of Philosophy 1 & 2. Fascinating for any age. I love them! To see all their works, CLICK HERE.

Lovely Christmas music from their generation -- Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Julie Andrews, even Elvis (though I would stick to ballads and soothing, quiet vocals for Alzheimers folks. Sometimes it can just be too stimulating). Barbara Streisand ballads, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, John Tesh (all instrumental), Percy Faith and his orchestra. If you have a dad for whom this is all too mushy, then try honey voiced but tongue in cheek Dean Martin (especially his Baby it's Cold Outside). Tony Bennett and Yo Yo Ma have come out with new ones this season that might be good. Better yet, make a compilation of hand picked stuff from your own computer!

Grandfather Remembers CLICK HERE or Grandmother Remembers CLICK HERE-- a wonderful keepsake book they fill out (or you can help them do it, but do it slowly, over time, to savor. Too fast can overwhelm) about $15 on Amazon

Lovely book ideas for the ladies --Kitchen Table Wisdom or My Grandfather's Table, Marlo Thomas's book The Right Words at The Right Time. Probably everyone has Chicken Soup for the Soul but just in case.

For men or women --The Five People You Meet In Heaven. Maya Angelou's poetry can be very nice and there are many such books.

Here are two favorites -- big pictures, positive messages, short on words.

Gifts of Age -- portraits and essays of 32 remarkable women (out of print so find used like new on AMazon or CLICK HERE)

Amazing Men (courage, insight, endurance) by Joyce Tenneson (ON SALE now at Amazon --CLICK HERE)

Dewy or Marley and Me are nice reads for animal lovers.

Is anyone active AND hip enough to use a NetFlicks subscription? If not, then how about a subscription to anything from Readers Digest to Scientific American to the Daily Word to Astronomy to Cooks Illustrated or something like that? Too bad Life Magazine is no longer. People comes closest but it's still no comparison.

If any of them still cook -- or bake cookies - how about getting them a new cookie sheet or two with those $19 Silpat liners? Now that's a newfangled product they'll love! Or replace all their old cracked spatulas, burnt pots, etc. Some may be favorites or carry memories, so think about what might really be useful -- maybe just new potholders, dishtowels, scrub sponges?

Fab dominoes set? New bridge double deck 'o cards with a beautiful decoration on it? a tool for some hobby they have (ie: Men - wood working tool? Ladies who knit, some fab, unusual yarn).

Not all older folks are used to this, but a Gift certificate for a theraputic massage (even if the local person comes to their house?). A manicure for the ladies or if the men were from that era, an old fashioned barbershop shave (that would take a little research on your part in their area).

If they do know how to work a DVD at home, there are wonderful Boxed sets of old movies by director or actor. One all round crowd pleaser can be the singles or 4 DVD boxed set of "That's Entertainment". Or try for the Oscar Winners from a certain time period in their lives. For the veteran there are plenty of war documentaries, shows on weapons and Ken Burns works such on PBS's website. Discovery Channel and National Geographic has things like "Dirtiest Jobs", Myth Busters, Survivorman, and a plethora of things on space, astronomy, how things were made, etc... You may want to look for religious DVD's as well. Or video format scriptures based on their beliefs. Charlton Heston does a good one on the bible, found HERE

Lots of interesting british series and Masterpiece theater shows can be found on

Many like to keep up the tradition of writing to grandchildren, or for those with speech problems or shut ins, it may encourage them to communicate with the outside world. Buy a box of varied cards, and include a nice pen, stamps and address labels all in one nice box. This will make it so easy-- you may eve go so far as to print up self stick address labels with the addresses of family and grandkids or best friends on them! (thanks to Laurie M. for this idea)

Lastly, it never hurts to make up a photo album or a DVD of old photos, and you can make the same for each sibling if you have older aunts and uncles to buy for. It's always nice if you can seek old ones they haven't seen in years, of them in their prime, or the best times of their lives.

Hope that helps! Please scroll down/up for more gift ideas and come back for new posts.
photos respectfully borrowed from recommended sites.

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