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Time to give back to grandparents
Photo courtesy: Pixabay

By Joshua Pilkington

Unique Gifts for the Holidays

Part V of V

With less than a week to Christmas Day, the pressure is mounting to find the perfect gift. Several unique gifts for the holidays have been covered in this section over the last month from tickets to a show at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to winter wonder walk through the Botanic Gardens. In this final edition of Unique Gifts for the Holidays, we peer into the sometimes overlooked demographic: the elderly.

“I never know what to get my grandma,” said Tom Nelson, 41, Denver. “When you live past 80 you can definitely accumulate a lot of stuff, so finding a gift for that 80-plus demographic can be challenging.”

That challenge can often be overcome when spending time with your grandparents rather than giving them more things to put on a shelf, according to Cindy Cole, a geriatrician.

“Around this time of year, many of the patients are very excited at the prospect of seeing their growing families,” Cole said. “They talk about their kids, grandkids and even great grandkids coming to visit for the holidays. I really don’t think there is a much better gift to give the elderly than time.”

Time can be challenging for some, however, as distance and other obligations can impede an in-person visit. For that, Cole added, there are hundreds of solutions.

“Phone calls are pretty special and simple,” she said. “I don’t many grandparents who are overjoyed at receiving a text, but phone calls go a long way. And there are some built-in cameras now that make you feel like you are really with the person, something like that can go a long way as well.”

The physical benefits of maintaining social interaction via phone calls or in-person visits are also present. According to Cole, social interaction is one of the best ways to ward off dementia.

“Medicine is out there to treat dementia, but from a preventative standpoint, social interaction is one of the best ways to maintain cerebral lucidity,” she said. “I’ve done a couple of house calls and always love to see how my patients light up when a visitor - especially a family member - stops by.”

Although he does have a phone call in mind, Nelson, said he chose to gift his grandmother, an 87-year-old resident of Pocatello, Idaho, a photo book featuring his siblings and their families.

“It’s a gift from the grandkids and great grandkids,” Nelson said. “My grandfather passed away a little over two years ago and - although she still maintains an active lifestyle and has some of her kids close by, I know she gets lonely sometime. I figured a book with recent photos and past memories would be a nice touch.”

For those who plan to visit their grandparents for the holidays, Cole recommended some additional gifts that can be given.

“It’s more than just stopping by to say hello,” Cole said. “Bring a meal or make them a meal while you’re there. Help them set up their printer or connect to a secure wifi network. Play a board game with them. Brain games or strategic games like chess are especially beneficial because it will amp up their cognitive response.”

She also added limited exercise if the weather allows, and helping to tidy up the house, shovel the driveway, do the laundry, and other daily chores that become more daunting with age.

“We tend to forget just how challenging things become after a certain age,” Cole added. “You wouldn’t expect a 6-year-old to do their laundry or clean out their garage, but we do expect that from an 80-year-old.”





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