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Top 5 “Sensory Gifts” for Granny

Buying a gift for Granny doesn’t have to be a chore!    For inspiration just think of your own 5 senses – Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.

Our 5  senses are the primary way we  humans connect with our world.  As Granny ages, her sensory awareness ages too.  Thoughtfully chosen gifts that appeal to one or more of the senses can be a great source of connection, comfort and compensation for our aging loved ones.  Treat Granny to a truly sensual experience chosen just for her!

1) I Can SEE It

But can Granny?  As we age our vision blurs, small printing become difficult to read. Make a custom gift card with large print and bright colors.   Consider gifts that aid with fading vision like oversize calendars, phone with oversize buttons or large-print books.  How about fun with magnifying glasses? Who wouldn’t like a magnifying glass decorated by the grandkids?

Photo compilations are fun for all ages, but especially for those who dont read.  Find pictures of “the good old days” in personal albums, old magazines or online. Create scrapbooks, photo albums, photo collages or imprint photos on blankets, pillows or other items on websites such as www.shutterfly.com.

Whether old photos or new photos you can create a very special visual scrapbook just for her.

2) Its Music To My EARS

Give Granny a gift of music from her youth! Music is used to improve health, happiness and  can even provide a powerful connection with past memories.  Numerous music and memory programs are daily enriching the lives of today’s seniors.

As a gift compile a “mix-tape” of familiar artists and songs or Utube for an endless variety of old songs and original broadcasts to deliver on a tablet computer or smartphone. Headphones may help for those who need louder volume. Long running playlists may be helpful as Granny may not be familiar with, nor have the dexterity to manipulate modern devices.  Look for simple devices with large buttons or older devices they are familiar with.  Don’t expect them to easily master new ones.  Several cable channels and satellite radio stations offer ongoing nostalgic music so Granny doesn’t have to do anything but listen and enjoy!

3) That SMELLS  marvelous!

Why does our sense of smell can engage our emotions and even transport us back in time?  The answer is likely due to the direct neurological connection between the Olfactory bulb, the hippocampus and the amygdala.  Put another way; the part of the brain the analyzes smells (Olfactory bulb), is directly tied to the part of the brain that manages memories (hippocampus) and emotions (amygdala).

A gift of carefully selected scents may help Granny connect with pleasant experiences and memories.  Did she have a favorite flower, perfume or sachet?   Was she a baker or a cook?  A nice cookie or pie flavored lotion will be extra special if you help massage it in.

4) TASTY Treats

Don’t underestimate the power of food gifts, they can be much more than a tasty treat!  Due to the digestive systems strong link to the hippocampus and its memory processing functions, taste can instantly evoke memories that may be decades old.

Does Granny have a sweet tooth?  Try finding her favorite childhood candy treats.  Online sites like www.oldtimecandy.com have single items and gift boxes for purchase.  Maybe you can make or bake old family recipes that were her favorites.  Turn it into a family activity and Granny can be the judge.

Always be informed about special dietary needs and be sensible about portions. With a food gift you can indulge Granny with a nostalgic flashback that makes her feel young again!

5) Can You FEEL  it?

The sense of touch is vital for our wellbeing.  Studies show that lack of touch can lead to depression.  For those with late stage dementia, the sense of touch may be their main way to connect with the world.

For gift giving think “soft and silky” on the skin.  Small handsize or lapsize items like blankets, pillows or stuffed animals.  Granny may have “fidgeting fingers” that need to be kept busy with multiple textures, contours or something like a Fidget Quilt; which can be purchased or made DIY.

Find out what items kept her hands happily busy in the past and redefine that for her current use and abilities. For example maybe Granny was a knitter whose fingers have lost that ability. A knitted object or even gift of interesting yarn would put a smile on her face.

Many seniors get chilled easily so think about soft slippers, socks or other warm and cozy items.   Hand and foot rubs can be a lovely way to connect with Granny. A gift of gentle lotion and some time together could benefit you both. Try different lotions and if you do it yourself be gentle and aware of irritating thin and tender skin.

So next time you want to brighten Granny’s day with a thoughtful gift and a little love, consider how you can use sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch to present something extra special just for her!

About the author
Terri Harvey

CSA

CarePatrol of The Foothills

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