The Elements

By Ruthann P. Lacey, P.C.   |   November 29, 2016

Top 4 Compassionate Holiday Gift Ideas for Seniors

Categories: Elder Abuse, Health & Wellness

The holidays are a time when we connect and make memories with the ones who mean the most to us. But it seems that the longer we live the more complicated life can become for us. Remembering lost loved ones and happy times gone can be heart-warming but can cause seniors to feel sad.

Factors to Consider for Seniors Facing the Holidays:
  • Lack of Memories – having cognitive memory impairment leading to a sense of helplessness – especially when aware of memory deficits (Am I losing my mind?)
  • Limited Mobility – medical conditions or injury can prohibit full mobility resulting in the need for walker or wheelchair. Being unable to move as in the past can hinder an individual’s ability to fully participate in the holiday celebration, causing sadness. (I can’t keep up.)
  • Living Alone – According to the Administration on Aging 1 out of 8 Americans is now over 65, and 28% live alone. Many seniors do not have regular contact with others, putting them at risk of health conditions like dementia and other diseases. (I’m out of touch.)
  • Living in a Facility – Home is where the heart is. Many seniors long for the comforts of their own home and reminisce about the holiday traditions created there over the years. (I’m not at home here.)
  • Financial Stress – Many seniors are living on a more limited fixed income than anticipated and may feel inadequate when it comes time for family to unwrap the gifts from the senior. (I’m ashamed.)
  • Depression – It is important to note that some sadness during the holiday season is a normal experience for individuals, including seniors. However, if symptoms of depression continue much beyond the season schedule an appointment with a medical professional. (I don’t feel like doing anything.)
Here are 4 gift ideas that can help to ensure quality of life and restore feelings of independence for elderly adults:
  • The Gift of Home – Care Manager, Caregiver, Companion Services – Help with housekeeping, meal preparation, shopping, etc. Depending on the senior’s ability, arrange so they can order their groceries or prescriptions by phone or online and have them delivered to the house. This also provides peace of mind for you since you know their basic personal needs are being handled properly.
  • The Gift of Freedom – Rides through Lyft or Uber – If your aging family member can’t safely drive why have them sit home alone? Services like Lyft and Uber are a reliable source for rides for excursions and appointments and can be a great gift. More peace of mind for you as you know they can get where they need to be and aren’t at risk from driving.
  • The Gift of Financial Help that is Incognito – Gift cards to a restaurant, grocery store, veterinarian, pharmacy, etc. Also arrange for auto pay of regular household bills such as utilities, either from the senior’s bank account or from your bank account if they need financial assistance but are reluctant to accept help from you. You can pay for insurances, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, internet service, a weekly housekeeper, a lawn service, mobile auto detailer to come to their house, etc. More peace of mind for you since all these services add quality of life and safety for the older adult while you know that basic finances are being addressed.
  • The Gift of Basic Human Comforts – Enabling them to live with quality of life that matters to them. A gift membership to a favorite magazine – like a gardening or social magazine; subscription to a service such as Amazon Prime or NetFlix; DVDs of their favorite movies or their home movies put onto DVDs; photos printed or available online; something from their youth like music that has been a part of their lives; getting them on Facebook with your family and their community.

It turns out that traditions do tend to change as we age. You should create new traditions with your older family member this holiday season. Talk together about the feelings they are having and help reassure them that someone is listening to them and is there for them.

Showing interest in their feelings and listening empathetically may be one of the very best gifts you can give.


Ruthann P. Lacey, P.C.
Elder and Special Needs Law

Ruthann Lacey is an alumna of Trinity College and Emory University School of Law, is licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia and Washington, D.C., and is a Certified Elder Law Attorney. Her practice concentrates on planning for the unique and complex concerns of the elder population, and of children and adults with special needs.

Ruthann is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the Special Needs Alliance, a charter member of the Council of Advanced Practitioners, and a member of the District of Columbia Bar, the Georgia Bar Association, and the Atlanta Bar Association. Ruthann has been selected as a “Super Lawyer” every year since 2006; was named one of the Top 50 Women Attorneys in Georgia in 2007, 2009, and 2010; and was included in the “Georgia Trend” selection of Georgia’s Top Attorneys in 2012, all based on surveys of her peers. Ms. Lacey has an AV rating in Martindale-Hubbell, and was included in the 2013 Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers.

Ruthann is past chair of the Elder Law Section of the Georgia Bar, serves on the Continuity of Law Practice Committee of the Georgia Bar, belongs to the Fiduciary Law Section of the Georgia Bar Association, and is a Life Fellow with the Lawyers Foundation of Georgia. She is a member of the Elder Law and Small Firm Sections of the Atlanta Bar Association.

Ruthann belongs to the DeKalb Estate Planning Council, is a member of the board of Family Initiative Residences, Inc., and is actively involved with several volunteer and charitable organizations. She is a past Director of the National Elder Law Foundation.

Ruthann is an active speaker on the local, state and national levels, to both professional and public groups and organizations. Recent engagements include serving as Program Chair for the fifteenth annual Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia Special Needs Trust program; presenting at the 2015 Missouri NAELA Annual Elder Law Symposium; presenting at the 2015 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association Annual Convention; presenting with the ICLE Webinar Series; presenting at the 8th Annual Utah Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Medicaid Planning 2011 program; presenting at the 9th Annual Utah Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Medicaid Planning 2012 program; presenting at the Stetson University 2011 Special Needs Trusts – The National Conference; serving as a guest Professor of Law at John Marshall Law School; serving on the faculty of Southern Trust School; presenting at the NAELA Symposium and at NAELA Fundamentals Day; facilitating at the NAELA Advanced Practitioner’s Program; presenting to the Alabama Bar Institute for Continuing Legal Education; the Tennessee Bar Association; Medicaid Irrevocable Qualified Income Trust Training; The Coca-Cola Company; the Financial Planning Association; the Cobb County Bar Association Elder Law Section; Emory University’s Senior University; Delta Employees Credit Union; the People’s Law School; the Atlanta Bar Association’s Legal Eagles CLE Series; the Atlanta Special Needs Trust Discussion Group; Georgia State University; the Joint Conference on Law and Aging; the Georgia Chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society; Church groups; Civic groups; Alzheimer’s Support Groups; and AARP Chapters. She also has been an Instructor of Estates, Trusts and Wills and Legal Research at the National Center for Paralegal Training, has drafted Elder Law legislation for submission to the Georgia General Assembly, and is an editor and published writer.

Among other accomplishments, Ruthann has been published in the Georgia Bar Journal, Family Law Quarterly (a publication of the American Bar Association), Georgia Probate Notes, Exceptional Parent, Money Matters, Inside Money, Senior News, and NAELA News, edited the Medicaid chapters in A Will is Not Enough in Georgia, contributed to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Long-Term Care Planning, and The CPA’s Guide to Long-Term Care Planning, has appeared as a guest on the Clark Howard Show, the Layman’s Lawyer, Money Matters, Inside Money, People to People, Professional Review, and Atlanta Issues, has been mentioned in Consumers Digest, has been cited in Elder Care and Nursing Home Litigation in Georgia, and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlanta Journal – Constitution, The Family Connection, and the American Bar Association Journal.

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