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LeavesNoTrace's avatar

What would be a super thoughtful gift for my very elderly grandmother?

Asked by LeavesNoTrace (5674points) January 31st, 2017

My much-loved grandmother is 98-years-old and seriously The Best with a capital “B.” She lived with my family from the time I was three until I was 24, and helped raise me (I’m 28). After my mom (her eldest child) passed away, she went to live in a nursing home in a different state so she could be close to my aunts who look after her and visit her several days a week.

I don’t get to see her as much as I’d like to but I Facetime with her often and she’s doing reasonably well despite her advanced age. However, she is slowing down quite a bit and doesn’t see or hear very well and prefers her wheelchair to her walker these days. She’s pretty lucid and conversant in both English and Italian, but (understandably) doesn’t remember things as well as she used to. So I’m always aware when I visit her that it may be the last time…

My partner and I plan to visit her in a couple of weeks, and I’d like to bring her something special. We plan on bringing her favorite wine (yes, her doctor says it’s okay), some Italian snacks and food to share, and some photos to look at. My aunts say she has everything she needs, but can someone make suggestions for something else that someone in their late-90s may particularly enjoy?

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17 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

A lap quilt might nice.

Seek's avatar

A voice recorder and a list of questions.

Record every story of her life you can get out of her. Her first date, her first job, the silliest night of her life, the funniest thing that happened to her as a new Mom…

Then, type up the stories, have them printed.

Help her memories last forever.

kritiper's avatar

One of those page size magnifiers.

janbb's avatar

What does she still like to do? If she can still enjoy stories, an audio book player (if her hearing is good.) Does she like music? Perhaps a simple CD player and Italian folk songs? Does she like birds? Maybe a book with big plates of bird pictures? In my Mom’s last good nursing home they found out what you liked to do and found a way to involve you with that.

zenvelo's avatar

One of those picture frames you can download a few hundred pictures to, that will change every 12 or 24 hours.

Coloma's avatar

Some already, good suggestions. What about asking her to share any family recipes you loved and remember? Tell her you’d like to make a cookbook of her favorite dishes and have her share the recipes with you. Lord, 98, I can’t imagine, bless her heart! haha

Love_my_doggie's avatar

What a lovely question, with such beautiful thoughts and sentiments.

Because your grandmother’s still very lucid, some “creature comforts” would be great choices.

- There are pouch/bags designed to hang from the arm of a wheelchair. Here’s one example, although there are many other versions you can find online: This sort of item holds eyeglasses, a small, plastic pack of facial tissues, a tube of lipstick or Chapstick, a notepad and pen…anything your grandmother might find convenient to keep nearby.

- You could call her nursing home, talk with the person who helps her get dressed and undressed, and ask for ideas. I’m thinking about articles of clothing (a nice blouse and sweater?), new socks and underthings, or maybe some nightgowns. That person can give you thoughts and provide the right sizes (your grandmother might have lost weight since your last visit).

- Moisturizing creams are always nice – face, hand, and body lotion, designed for elderly skincare.

- Liquid body wash tends to be less drying than soap, so you could choose something mild and with a pretty fragrance.

- Same thing for gentle, pleasantly-fragranced shampoo.

- I love your thoughts about some nice foods. Your grandmother can enjoy them herself and share with other people.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@janbb Well, she’s not a typical grandma, she’s a “cool” grandma. ;)

These days, my aunts say she likes to eat and drink tawny port—so pretty much the same thing she’s been doing since I’ve been alive. LOL She also likes USA Gold cigarettes but not as much in the winter, because it’s too damned cold to go outside.

Unfortunately, she’s 100% blind in one eye since losing it in childhood and the sight isn’t great in the other one, so reading isn’t really an option for her anymore. She is still politically opinionated, watches the news a lot, and is NOT a fan of Drumpf, so that will make for interesting conversation…

I’m thinking about enlarging and printing some old photos she’s probably not seen in many and years and giving her an album. Some of the photos go back to the late 19th century of her parents before they immigrated and through the 1990s when she first moved in with my family.

Coloma's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace haha, that is so great, 98 and likes her wine and a cigarette, my kinda grandma!

janbb's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace That was my point – there is no generic grandmother, each person remains an individual. The album idea sounds great!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

If you know someone will read them to her since she can’t easily read herself, you could undertake the joy of writing her a letter once a week. They can be very short, but it would give her a great deal of joy hearing about the little things of your day.

This is a gift of your time, the most precious thing any of us can give another person.

BellaB's avatar

A tablet that includes a few specialized playlists you’ve created for her. Tunes from Italy, tunes from her youth, music you know she loves, recorded books, maybe some political podcasts.

Load some photos on there – if it’s like my Kindle, the pic are a decent size and it’s easy to zoom areas of interest.

If possible, get a tablet that has wifi and a radio option. The sound on tablets can be very excellent and she can check in on her favourite radio programs and youtube (my dad – in his late 80’s is a total youtube freak).

If the tablet screen is too small, consider getting her a convertible laptop. Those are fabulous.

Cruiser's avatar

If she does not already have them wheelchair accesories could be a good gift idea. Scroll down and the comfort cushion looks super comfy.

cazzie's avatar

Does she have a favorite scent of soap? Custom made soap is a nice gift older people like.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

My grandmother loved Sinefield. a TV DVD player and she watched Sinefeld whenever she wanted.

flutherother's avatar

Old people sometimes feel the cold, she might like a blanket of some sort to use in her wheelchair. Alternatively, some elderly people find the Binatone Speakeasy phone helpful if they have poor hearing or poor eyesight. She sounds a lovely old lady I hope you have a great visit.

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