It is increasingly challenging to find gifts that are meaningful and helpful, particularly for older family members, who are likely to find it almost impossible to cram one more towel, coffee mug or pair of socks into the already full drawer.
At Live Well Longer we have come up with the following Christmas stocking fillers which may be more welcome.
a bag of potting mix and offer to re-pot their favourite house plants;
an offer to clean out the pantry and the pots and pans cupboard;
theatre tickets or a subscription to the WASO or WA Opera, with the offer to take them (better still, research if they are eligible for a Companion Card, then you can help them make an application, and be their companion (and enter free) to accompany them to their favourite show);
(from more tech-savvy younger family members) – free computer or mobile phone lessons, setting up Skype or WhatsApp, or using FaceTime to show how easy it is to stay connected with absent friends and family
an offer to walk the dog, or to take the family pet to the vet for vaccinations and a check-up;
a month of delivered gourmet meals, or a weekly box of grower direct fruit and vegetables;
a project to scan the family slides and photo albums, or to write down their story;
an offer to weed the driveway or to paint the front fence; or
an offer to take them to visit an old friend, or to bring the friend to visit them for afternoon tea.
Yet don’t forget that what would be appreciated most of all by many older people in our lives, particularly those that live alone, or may be living in aged care, is a visit and a chat, and a promise to come back soon. Social isolation and loneliness are two of the biggest health risks as we get older. It is important not to underestimate the value of social contact and staying connected.