"I have an elderly friend who lives in a residential home and has done so for several years. At this time of year I always have a problem when it comes to thinking up ideas of what I can give her for a Christmas present. Do you have any suggestions?"
Answer : Most people living in a residential setting do not need or want quite as much as they did before they moved into the home. So that does narrow the field of appropriate gifts. However, there are several ways in which you can give a lovely present which will be enjoyed.
Firstly, the majority of people living in a residential home situation all love and look forward to visitors. Therefore you could give a gift of an interesting calendar (perhaps of dogs if they used to have a pet dog at home) and write on it the days that you will visit for the next three/six months..
Buy a gift certificate for a local shop or chain store and accompany it with a card saying that you will take them to spend the gift voucher in the shop. If they have a cassette or cd player, buy books on tape.
Make your own "gift voucher" offering to take the person out to a local venue, e.g. restaurant, theatre, garden centre, shopping centre, etc.
Make up a gift box containing a range of birthday cards, notelets, thank you cards, stamps, etc so that they can send out cards to family and friends independently.
Answer : In the Winter in particular, the long winter afternoons and dark mornings do tend to make people feel more isolated, especially elderly people. Contact, as much or as little as they would like, can be offered in several ways whilst leaving the older person in control.
For example, you could send elderly people in your village a simple card or a Christmas card with your name and telephone number on, with a simple message saying that they can contact you if they would like some help with anything or some company.
You could organise a magazine rota. Put notes through the doors of people who you feel might like to read, offering to drop some off on a regular basis and collect a few days later to hand on to someone else. Put your telephone number and name on and see what happens.
Answer : If you have difficulties with your hands or sight the following ideas may be of help to you. Make sure the door is easy for you to open and preferably swing back out of the way. You may find one on a turntable is easier to manage. The controls need to be easy to push or grip without too much force. Ovens with door handles, easy push buttons or uncluttered touch-pad controls are likely to suit you.
This information comes from an organisation called "ricability" (research and information for consumers with disabilities). They are a national charity dedicated to providing independent information of value to disabled and elderly consumers. They provide consumer guides and they do have one for Microwave Ovens. They have tested 12 types and publish a consumer report accordingly. They test other products, investigate services and carry out research of all kinds for disabled and elderly consumers. Visit: http://www.ricability.org.uk
Answer : Contact ARP/050. This is the Association of Retired and Persons over 50 organisation. They have over 190 Friendship Centres including ones in Redruth/Truro, St Austell, Exeter, Plymouth and Torbay.
They have talks, parties, dinners, days out, theatre trips and holidays. They are also a campaigning force for this age group. Founded in 1988 it now has over 80,000 members. Your local library should have contact details or visit: http://www.arp.org.uk