Season of Giving

Giving makes most people feel good, but it can be stressful too. Last year, a resident threw a fit because she couldn’t leave the facility to buy some greeting cards to mail to her friends and family. When she was finally offered some plain-looknig cards from the basement, she was upset that nobody was able to mail them for her. In outpatient settings, I’ve had elderly clients who felt overwhelmed because they didn’t know what to give their grandchildren, or didn’t have the money to buy anything for their kids.

As service providers, how do we maximize the benefits of gifting and reduce the frustration associated with it? As the holiday season draws near, consider what you can do to allow your residents, clients, or elderly family members/ friends feel that they are still able to give:

– Invite them to help design greeting cards or decorate the living space.

– Encourage them to sing or tell a joke at the holiday party.

– Ask them for their favorite recipe (and make use of it if you can).

– Help your homebound but cognitively intact family members get some nice greeting cards and stamps.

– Spend time to write holiday cards and/or wrap holiday gifts with them.

– Volunteer with them somewhere, perhaps at a child-friendly place where they can bring their grandchildren as well.

– Offer creative ideas related to holiday cards and gifts.

Growing up, my grandmother used to ask me to help her write a line or two on Christmas cards to relatives overseas every year. I knew it’s worth it when I saw that smile on her face when our mission was accomplished; and when years later I continued to receive a card from her every year that my parents now helped write.

Giving older adults the opportunity to give is a wonderful gift. What do you think? 🙂


About C

If you consider volunteering at a luncheon for older adults as my first exposure to the field, I have been in geropsychology for at least twenty years. As family, friend, volunteer, trainee, and professional, I have found myself in adult day care centers, senior centers, senior living facilities, nursing homes, medical and psychiatric wards, hospice, and personal homes of older adults. Wherever I go, be it an orphanage, a museum, a prison, an airport, or a random corner in the neighborhood, issues related to aging and mental health often come to mind. I used to think that I could make a difference only if I became a top-notch researcher, educator, or clinician. As I continue to follow this meandering path, it dawns on me that as a nobody in the field, I can still add my light to the sum of light by sharing what I know. Over the years, I have "converted" a few very dedicated individuals to focus on aging-related work within their respective disciplines and encouraged a handful more to stay in this field despite its winding course. I believe by bringing aging and mental health issues to the foreground, we will amass a stronger force to promote advocacy, research, and quality care.
This entry was posted in Holidays, Personal Reflections and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Season of Giving

  1. I’ve seen the same frustration among the nursing home residents I’ve worked with. The people they most want to get gifts for are those they’d normally turn to for errand-running, which poses a huge challenge, beyond the financial barriers of a meager Personal Needs Allowance. I like to help residents write cards and then I mail them out for them. Sometimes they can get free cards at the nursing home, and sometimes organizations would send me blank holiday cards in the mail to solicit donations, and I’d bring a bunch of them in to the nursing home and let the residents choose. It was very satisfying and empowering for them to continue their holiday card-sending tradition.

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