We’re living longer and healthier lives. What seemed like “old age” to us years ago is now merely the age of wisdom and no regrets. Population experts at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Vienna go so far as to argue that age 60 should now be classified as “middle aged,” not old.
Of course, this doesn’t mean all of the seniors in your life are happy about events that are commonplace as we grow older. It may be harder to visit faraway children and grandchildren, friends may have had to move to assisted living or nursing homes, or are deceased. Your senior family and friends may be frustrated by negative stereotypes in the media, or ageism in the workplace – things that tell them they should be feeling old, even if they don’t.
The happier we remain, the less we fear getting older. By selecting gifts for the seniors in your life that inspire them to embrace the freedom and happiness they’ve earned, you are restoring their belief that age is, in fact, just a number. Aging In Place lists a few ideas.
Three cheers for fitness
Engaging in physical activity is still beneficial in our senior years; in fact, improving muscle strength and balance can prevent falls, and aerobic activities can keep heart muscles healthy and improve metabolism.
However, particularly if the seniors in your life are not currently physically active, don’t spring a gym membership on them and expect them to go solo. Many fitness clubs have senior-only classes that are low- or no-impact. Yoga designed for seniors can be a lifelong pursuit, and it greatly improves balance and promotes healthy sleep. Buy a few classes to test the waters; finding same-aged friends to join can also increase participation and staying power.
If your senior friends and family are already engaging in physical activity, find a gift that demonstrates your support in their endeavors. Grab those running tights in the newest tech fabric that they may not think to purchase for themselves, purchase them a membership in a food co-op to support an overall healthy lifestyle, or give them a sleek armband so they can use apps on their smartphone to work out.
Look good, feel better
Regardless of individual viewpoints on the physical signs of aging, such as wrinkles or graying hair, how each person chooses to handle it is a personal choice. As Psychology Today notes, for those over 60 “… it’s not uncommon to be shamed by others about wearing makeup and/or appreciating it.”
That’s unfortunate. The desire to present oneself as physically attractive doesn’t vanish as we get older. Consider giving your senior a spa day, a self-care indulgence suitable for men or women. Extend an invite to dinner at a nice restaurant, complete with a trip to the hair salon for an “updo” – for no reason.
Nutrition is also an important internal mechanism that fights the external signs of aging. Consider giving your senior’s healthy diet a boost by giving them a collagen supplement that can be incorporated into shakes and other beverages. The benefits of collagen include younger skin, healthier joints and bone loss prevention. You might “innocently” offer them a taste of a collagen shake first to demonstrate how good it tastes, so they won’t be skeptical when they receive the gift!
Make their time your time
Finally, nothing says you care like giving your time. Carve out an hour or two a week to visit your senior friends. See a comedy together, share some of the newer songs on your playlist with them, and help them navigate the latest social media platforms; keeping up to date is important to healthy and happy aging.
Another gift idea addresses the fact that more retirees are returning to school. Maybe your loved one would love to explore a new subject or earn that MBA they never got. There are accredited institutions that allow for flexibility so seniors can take the classes they want and still enjoy retirement. Get creative by making a gift certificate or basket with the promise to pay for some classes or books.
Giving seniors gifts that inspire a healthy life may also assure you that as you age, you too can do so well and happily, without worrying about the number.
Guest Author Hal Salazar Elders Today
Ty Strahl is the areas leading senior adviser. Her job is to help you navigate the many aspects of aging and to help seniors who are in transition to find the right solutions for their individual needs.