Gift for Grandfather
June 18, 2004 10:53 AM   Subscribe

DentureFilter: I need gift ideas for my elderly grandad. For father's day i am going to visit him. He's 90 years old and starting to feel like it, i try to give him stuff to make his life easier when i visit (things like a portable phone, new space heater).

I'm on a tight budget now, but I won't be next time, any ideas would be appreciated. He can't get around the house like he used to, and since I can't live in his town, I really want to do what I can to help him out when I'm able to visit.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo to Shopping (15 answers total)
Massaging devices - pads that go under one that have various massaging settings – feet tubs that whirlpool.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:12 AM on June 18, 2004

A lot depends on what your grandad already has, where he lives, etc. I'll just toss out some fairly standard ideas based on my elderly relatives:

- Netflix subscription and mini DVD player
- plug-in throw blanket that is good for keeping over you when you watch TV/read in a somewhat chilly room
- magazine subscription in an area he's interested in
- subscription to the yeahyeahyeahwhoo letter-of-the month club, write him letters every month if you don't already, telling him what you're up to and so forth
- easy-to-see wall clock, alarm clock, or kitchen timer

Think about things he does regularly that might be aided by some pretty basic assistive technology. Does he have a roller-cart for shopping? Does he have a sturdy stepstool for getting to high shelves in the kitchen? Does he have a watering hose for his indoor plants? Does he have grips in his shower? Are there heavy things he might need help lifting while you're there? Projects that are just a little out of his range that a few hours' help would put in range? Is there some sort of special food he likes that's too expensive for people on a tight budget that wouldn't break yours? I'm sure at some level having you visit is pretty cool. Take some pictures while you're there and send them to him after you're gone. I found that for my grandmother, just writing letters even if they weren't super interactive was a great way to be more present in her life even when I couldn't be nearby.
posted by jessamyn at 11:19 AM on June 18, 2004

Here's some suggestions, probably along the lines of jessamyn's post (which I skimmed, sorry).
posted by vignettist at 11:23 AM on June 18, 2004

It's such a little thing, but my grandmother greatly valued the ring pen I bought her. She couldn't write with anything else and cherished being able to write in her journal and letters to friends.
posted by Sangre Azul at 11:40 AM on June 18, 2004

I love the ringpen. That has to be one of the most useful and life-changing ideas I've seen in a long time.

Another thought, is there anyway you could make him feel young again, even for a day? (Old movies and popcorn together, something like that...)
posted by whatzit at 11:49 AM on June 18, 2004

Response by poster: Cool, these are good suggestions, I do a lot of stuff for him around the house when i visit, I've just kindof run out of ideas on things to buy.

I'm trying to straddle the line between getting him something too blatantly 'assistive' because he is a pretty proud stubborn guy, but he does need help doing things nowadays.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 12:11 PM on June 18, 2004

I gave my 91 year old grandad a paper shredder and he LOVES it. I think it has to do with the fact that he does all of his business/bills etc via the mail, and likes the idea of disposing of things privately. It also gives him a way to work out his frustrations with junk mail. He's also gone back to his records, dug up old stuff he doesn't need anymore, and shredded it, finally feeling comfortable getting rid of it all. Seriously, he is in love with the thing.
posted by scarabic at 12:28 PM on June 18, 2004

Yes, a paper shredder is a great idea. Old people tend to accumulate a LOT of junk paper if they're still living at home that they don't feel comfortable with throwing out. Or so I recall when I had to deal with grandad dying.
posted by shepd at 12:55 PM on June 18, 2004

How about looking at this from another direction?

Rather than thinking about material things you can give him (the guy is ninety years old, the latest and greatest gizmo may not impress him) think about something more personal. Obviously at ninety he's on the downhill side of life, give the guy something that reminds of better years.

Scan some family photos? Tape record relatives speaking about him? Find something interesting he participated in and scrapbook it for him? A first edition of his favorite book with a nice bookplate?
posted by cedar at 1:43 PM on June 18, 2004

While I disagree with the whole "downhill side of life" tone, cedar has reminded me that one of my grandpa's neighbors wrote a short biography of him as a paper for a class. I think he enjoyed that. Since it was done via interviews, he had a lot of input into the end product, and the interviews themselves were enjoyable for him along the way. I might mention the added bonus of having an attractive young woman perform the interviews. "Remind him of better years," indeed :)
posted by scarabic at 2:33 PM on June 18, 2004

scarabic:"While I disagree with the whole "downhill side of life" tone."

Okay. That was a bad (terrible?) way to put that. All I can say is that it's been a rough year and I have aged relatives dropping like flies. I only meant to suggest giving something a little more personal.

These geezers, they've seen it all and and at ninety this man probably remembers life without electricity and automobiles. What they care about is family and history, not paper shredders and phones with big numbers that make them feel like children. By virtue of his years this man has lived a life that you and I will never know, respect that and when it comes to gifts do it up right.

As silly as it sounds, give of yourself.
posted by cedar at 3:13 PM on June 18, 2004

I suppose my grandfather is a bit of an extraordinary case. At 92 he still works out every day, and he doesn't seem to have noticed that he's gotten old. He carries on as if everything were normal, and is astonisingly healthy. I guess the assistive stuff just doesn't occur to me, nor does the memorabilia. I just try to think of what present is good for someone of that generation.

Some safe advice: don't get him a Salon Premium subscription ;)

Sorry to hear about the rough year, cedar.
posted by scarabic at 4:04 PM on June 18, 2004

i'd say something fun and "modern"--is he into music? how about an ipod that you've already loaded with Big Band/Swing music or all his favorites or something? Or a cheap digital camera, and give him an assignment. He'd feel cool and with-it (like all the young folks nowadays) and something like a camera would get him wandering around, being active.
posted by amberglow at 4:14 PM on June 18, 2004

Your company, time, and friendship - as often as possible.
posted by Blue Stone at 12:10 PM on June 19, 2004

I got a great present from my daughter for Mother's Day that you could easily modify. She made up coupons and printed them out. My favorite one was for "Movie Night" - some night when I'm too lazy to go out, she's going to go to the video store, rent two old movies, and show up with popcorn, drinks, Raisinettes, Goobers, and the movies. That's pretty cool. She also gave me other coupons - I'll brush the dog, rearrange your photographs, wash and detail your car...that kind of thing.
posted by iconomy at 2:52 PM on June 19, 2004

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