Caregiver Gifts & Ideas for Dad
"My father is home and bed-bound. He lives with me and an additional live-in caregiver. Every year my siblings ask me what to get him for Christmas, and I struggle to figure out what to tell them. Do you have any ideas for holiday gifts or experiences for an elderly parent?" - READER
Gifts for those we love become more and more difficult as they age. I believe one of the primary reasons is that we place less value in “things” the older we get. We usually acquire the things we actually need on our own, rather than waiting and hoping that others will gift them to us as children do.
With that said, I recommend your siblings look at what would please your father most. Time with my children and grandchildren is the most precious gift that I can think of, being a grandparent now, myself. Time can be expensive if the siblings live out-of-town, which makes it all the more valuable. If in-person time is not possible there are computers and internet visits. Time spent together is everything.
To make that time memorable requires just a bit of planning. Plan an activity or two. Some activities include reading, putting puzzles together, playing cards, watching a favorite sports team play, or doing something completely out of the ordinary.
Another way to make the time memorable is to listen to and tell stories. All of human history has involved story-telling. The lessons and journeys they provide can be understood and enjoyed deeply by all. You can tell stories of your own by bringing along pictures from your time apart, sharing the stories of your adventures in the world. Make time to listen to your father's stories as well. Allow ample time, even if you have heard them before. He has a lifetime of stories that hold incredible lessons for you to discover, or at the very least be reminded of. Whether in person or via the internet, make an effort to prompt their telling. Ask him a new question about a story you've already heard. Use it as a jumping-off point for new information. And even if he sticks to the same stories he always has told, you will know how much joy they give him.
Wonderful gifts for an elderly person are upgrades for things they use every day, (e.g., shavers for men, a new pillow, pajamas, a nice robe, fancy coffee, a good lamp, a larger television screen, fancy pastries, cookies, or cheeses). The reality is the best gifts come from knowing how the recipient spends their time and what they are capable of doing. Then find something that makes their activities easier, more comfortable, or more enjoyable.
You are the best resource because your father lives with you. I know this may add pressure on you when people ask you for advice, but the truth is you do know what he likes and dislikes better than anyone. Watch your father closely for the day and make a short list of the things he uses. Note what makes him smile or laugh, note how he spends his time, and note what could make his life just a bit easier. Hopefully, by the end of the day, several ideas will have surfaced.
I wish you joy this holiday season and success in your search.
Family Caregiving Advice ColumnLearn More...
About this Post