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What to buy the senior on your Christmas list

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As you wrap up your Christmas shopping with just one week to go, are there still a few people on your list and you’re not quite sure what to get for them?

0 Talk about it

Here’s one we pondered: What do you get for someone living in assisted living or a long-term care facility?

First, and most important, an in-person visit is on every resident’s wish list.

Kathy Patton, director of Windmill Ponds, an assisted living facility in Alexandria, said there’s a lot of family involvement at their facility and, “The gift of time from someone is still the nicest thing people can get.”

Here’s a creative idea: Create a book of coupons that your loved can use throughout the year. Examples: This coupon good for a game of checkers and winner buys the coffee and pie! This coupon good for a spin around the courtyard and a game of name-that-bird! This coupon good for a night of home cooking delivered right to your room!

Do you sing or play piano, guitar, violin or other instrument? Donate your musical talents. Coordinate with the facility staff and provide an afternoon of entertainment for residents.

Here are a few more ideas for gifts provided by Galeon of Osakis: puzzles and puzzle books, winter hats, an e-reader like a Kindle, a birdfeeder, cane grippers, lotions, newspaper or magazine subscriptions, lip balm and nail polish, phone card, a CD or MP3 player, slippers or non-skid socks and wall decor.

Vanessa Warner, the activities director at Bethany Home in Alexandria, provided an abundant list of gift ideas:

• For men: Clothing like T-shirts, ball caps, cotton hankies and slippers.

• For women: Cotton undershirts or tank tops, socks with grips, body lotion, hand lotion, lipstick, combs and brushes, inexpensive soft colognes, pullover shirts and nightgowns.

• For anyone: Fresh fruit, candy bars, decks of cards, pencils and pens, writing tablets, music CDs.

Warner agreed that the gift of a personal visit is the best gift of all.

She said, “We’re very fortunate that families are very active here at Bethany. Some come every week or every other day, but we do have those who don’t [have visitors].”

That’s where the gift of volunteering can make an impact.

Warner said if you’re not sure what you can volunteer to do, long-term care facilities will help match your skills and interests.

“We’re always looking for volunteers to lead a group; things like a Little Red Hat Society, a women’s group, a men’s group,” she said.

And they’re always looking for volunteers to play cards, take residents on strolls indoors, or someone to read aloud from newspapers, magazines, books and Scriptures.

Plus, leading bingo and playing music are very popular with everyone.

She said residents also particularly love anything that has to do with history.

“We have professionals here who really like learning,” she said.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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