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Gifts ideas for an 80th or 90th birthday – what do you give the person that has everything?

By the time you reach the wonderful old age of 80, or even better 90 chances are you have just about everything you need. Around this age, and especially by the age of 90 most people will be in a care facility with limited space. So what do you give as a birthday gift?

For a 90th birthday you might want to celebrate with an extra special gift as this is a major milestone. A family can always pool together to get one big extra special gift.

Framed family photos to hang on the wall or a sit on a shelf are always a great birthday option for older people. Have a professional photographer take very good quality family portraits.

Why not arrange all the grandchildren to have a professional photo with Grandma or Grandpa (the birthday recipient). Then gift them the framed photo and they will treasure it (and so will you!).

This should be done every year because children change and grow so quickly and new grandchildren and great grandchildren come along. In this digital world we don’t print photos like we used to.

You can get those digital photo frames (need to be plugged into power) that show a revolving slide show of family photos from a USB stick in the back, but set the timer to the slowest change speed.

Older people do feel the cold a lot so a lovely light weight but warm mohair throw makes a wonderful gift. There are lots of colours available on the market so choose a colour that the gift recipient will love.

White, cream and beige are very popular. And other soft colours like a soft green, pink or blue are also excellent choices.

Find out if they have a favourite colour or choose a colour that goes with the décor of their bedroom. The throws aren’t just for the bed, older people spend a lot of time sitting in arm chairs so a knee throw over their legs helps keep them warm, especially if their circulation is not great. These make a really thoughtful 80th or 90th birthday gift.

Another way to beat the cold, especially if you take your elderly mum or dad on an outing is possum merino clothing or accessories like jackets, wraps, finger-less gloves or wrist-warmers and socks which make great useful gifts.

The hand-warmers are perfect because they are easy for older ladies with arthritic hands to pull on and off without having to worry about getting their individual  fingers in the right place.

My grandmother loved her finger-less gloves but go up one size so that they aren’t too tight. Stylish people will love a beret for the ladies or a beanie for the gents.

As well as a more permanent gift like a digital photo frame or mohair blanket, adding in flowers, chocolates or home baked goodies will make their day feel very special. And of course spend quality time with them. A visit is one of the best things you can give them.

Flowers make a lovely gift especially for Grandma, but they don’t last long, especially when the room is very warm or it they are placed in full sun. And staff in retirement villages often do not have time to change the water in a vase of flowers.

If you do choose to give flowers buy something that will last a while, at least a week or two like Lilies, Hydrangeas (drinks a lot of water) or Protea’s.

Picking flowers from your own garden is a lovely idea but they probably won’t last very long in a warm room and the water will need to be topped up daily or even better changed every few days. To make flowers last longer re-cut the stems and put them into cool fresh water straight away.

Remove any foliage from the bottom of the stems that will be submerged in the water. If the flowers came from a florist they will probably have some flower food to add into the water. Adding a few drops of bleach will help keep the water clear and will kill micro-organisms that make the water go slimy and the flowers wilt quicker.

Spring flowers with a fragrance like freesias or daffodils will bring back memories of childhood for the elderly, our sense of smell is the strongest sense for memory recall.

If there is room and if the facility allows, try a potted plant like a small orchid or succulents like the Jade plant which don’t need much care and are a great pot plant option. There are also some extremely good artificial flowers available that are so realistic looking you can hardly tell they are not real.

Bake them their favourite cakes (cut into smaller pieces), slices or soft biscuits from their childhood (you will need to subtly ask them what they like best in advance). Avoid biscuits that are too hard for their teeth like ginger nuts. My mum’s favourite is Louise Slice.

Find a pretty air tight container or tin to keep them fresh but make sure the lid is easy to open. Older people don’t eat much but they can share freshly baked goodies with their care staff if they can’t eat it all. Chocolates or soft licorice is another great idea.


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