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Holiday gifts for senior citizens

The calendar is filling up with parties and programs. The days are getting shorter and the shopping lists and wish lists are getting longer. During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, our older relatives may feel that they've been forgotten du...

The calendar is filling up with parties and programs. The days are getting shorter and the shopping lists and wish lists are getting longer.

During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, our older relatives may feel that they've been forgotten during this hectic time. Many senior citizens are often the loneliest at this time of year, but there are things we can do to make sure they feel loved and included.

Cindy Thieschafer-Karasch, owner of Alternative Senior Care, a member of the Seniors' Choice, has these tips to keep senior members of your family happy and healthy as you get ready for Christmas and the New Year.

"Give the best gift of all - your time! Most of the seniors I work with say the best gift of all is spending time with family," said Thieschafer-Karasch.

Unhurried, uncomplicated family time will mean the most to your loved one and will create memories to last all year long.

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Here are some suggestions for making it time well spent for the whole family:

Include them as much as possible. If the seniors in your family aren't as mobile as they used to be, offer to pick them up and drop them off, or arrange for a cab or for someone else to do the driving. Ask for their input about holiday plans.

Recognize their limitations. Remember all those wonderful holiday meals Grandma used to make? Maybe it's time to encourage older family members to take it easy and let you pamper them for a change. Keep them involved by helping with a favorite part of the meal, or in smaller, less complicated tasks if they want to participate.

Listen to their stories. Some of our older relatives cherish their memories and wish to share them. Encourage them to talk about holidays gone by. If they keep albums, ask to see the pictures. You may discover some wonderful traditions from their childhood that you can incorporate into your own family's plans.

Arrange for someone to treat your family member to something special. Alternative Senior Care offers Care Club packages of care giving service for families as a unique gift-giving option when they aren't able to go home for the holidays. It can be time spent in writing out and mailing Christmas cards, decorating for the holidays, accompanying them to a special church service or community event. Be creative in designing a special individualized gift of care.

Don't let it end. The week after New Year's Day is often the hardest for seniors, with the excitement over and families getting back to their normal routines. Make it your New Years' resolution to spend more time with your older relatives throughout the year.

It's often around family holidays that you may notice an older relative isn't doing as well as they once were.

    Alternative Senior Care offers information on support resources in central Minnesota, as well as providing non-medical home companion care service, making it possible for seniors to continue to live independently in their homes.
    For information call Alternative Senior Care at (866) 352-3350 or visit the website www.alternativeseniorcare.net .

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