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Finding the perfect gift for an older person doesn't have to be a difficult task. Instead of relying on old standbys, why not stretch your wings a little and give grandma a gift she's more likely to need and enjoy.

Let's face it, most older citizens have seen their share of cheap perfumes, knick-knacks and candy. While it may be practical for you to give a gift of flowers, it might not be for the receiver. Many older people have difficulty lifting heavy objects (such as a watering tin to care for the flowers), suffer from limited space and other problems that may make your practical gift, downright inconvenient for them. This year, vow to give something to your aging parents, grandparents or friends that they will enjoy.

Getting Grandma in tune
Many older people have outdated electronic appliances. Not only is this unsafe (as most are left unserviced), but it prohibits your special friend from enjoying some of the newer technologies on the market; many of which could keep them more in tune with the changing world around them.

VCR: VCRs can be a great gift for older persons. Not only does it allow them to rent movies, but can also be a great way to keep in touch. Restoring old home movies to videotape will allow your loved one to view their past at the push of a button. With a simple webcam or movie camera, you can create home movies and "hellos" for Grandma and send them off instead of letters and cards

TELEPHONE: Many older Americans still use traditional rotary style phones. Updating their equipment to cordless and pulse button phones will help them stay mobile and utilize advanced services which require more current equipment.

CASSETTE RECORDER: Purchasing a cheap cassette recorder is another great way to stay in touch. For those hampered by arthritis, degenerative muscle diseases and declining eyesight, a cassette recorder can allow your older friend to "speak" letters. You can also tape letters or special music for them. Record their grandchildren's Christmas Concerts or at home music concerts to help them feel close.

HOBBIES: Your older gift receiver surely has hobbies. Sometimes, the ability to continue being active with favorite things is lost when your loved moves to a smaller apartment or care facility. There are ways around this, though.

Pre-packaged Kits
Pick up specialized kits, which require minimal spaceand almost no extra materials. Knitting kits, needlecraft projects, woodworking packages and more are available at craft stores and are inexpensive.

Games
Just because your friend has aged, doesn't mean they no longer want to be challenged or enjoy basic entertainment. Large print cards and games are a great way to share fun with older persons. Puzzles come in many shapes and sizes, as well, and offer an excellent way to keep stiff fingers nimble.

Books
Reading can be difficult for some older persons. Buying large print books or picking up a large print subscription to a favorite magazine will keep your friend feeling as if they aren't so cut off from the rest of the world. If reading is no longer an option due to failing eyesight, try books on tape or record your own voice reading a book that you think your friend would be interested in.

Gifts
It's always a good idea to make a needs list for older persons. Flowers aren't always convenient to maintain and candy could be forbidden from those with diseases like diabetes. Find out what interests your older friends and then plan a special gift that is more likely to be appreciated.

Gift Certificates
Gift certificates are available from most retailers, including grocery stores. If your loved one is limited by travel restrictions, consider getting a gift certificate to their favorite grocer and have their goods delivered to their door. Most restaurants also perform delivery services which can be purchased in the form of gift certificates, as well.

Linens
Purchasing fresh new linens and towels can be a nice way to spruce up tired surroundings. Pamper your friend with new items that can replace those which may be outdated or simply worn out.

Writing Supplies
If your gift receiver likes to write, pick up new supplies. Easy to grip pens, stamps and large lined notepaper make an inexpensive, thoughtful gift. Pre-address and stamp envelopes for your older friend. Offer to help write letters for those who can no longer do so for themselves.

Calendars
For those with lapsing memories or just plain old large families, giving a calendar with dates pre-marked can be helpful. Design your own with personalized pictures by home computer or at a photo shop. Both are inexpensive and make keeping your friend in tune easy.

IOUs
Sometimes, just spending time with the one you love or providing a service while visiting can be the best gift of all.

Home Cooked Meals
Make a few easy-to-reheat meals for your loved one that they can freeze and eat later. As an alternative, give an IOU to stop by some night and prepare dinner. Be sure to stay and visit during dinner hours, too.

Maintenance
Offering to mow the lawn or weed the garden with an IOU can be a blessing in disguise to your receiver. Stop and take out the trash or do a thorough spring cleaning, if needed. Change the oil in their car and add necessary fluids. Clean out the refrigerator or help organize closets and other spaces.

Handicaps
For hard of hearing persons, consider purchasing a Sentry or Sound lamp, a device that will react to a doorbell or phone by turning on a light. Purchase telephone and TV amplifiers, so that they can better hear the world around them. Offer to make phone calls or run errands which may be difficult to a hearing impaired person. Take them to the doctor for hearing checkups and make sure they have the latest innovations to keep them in touch and comfortable.

Giving gifts that meet the needs of older Americans can be fun and rewarding as long as you're tailoring the gift to their needs. Don't be limited by these suggestions. Watch your older friends and take notice of their surroundings. You're sure to find things that can improve and enhance their daily life.