best gift giving not in box

Too much stuff? Think of giving a gift that doesn’t come in a box…

This time of year, many people are scrambling for gifts, wrapping paper, ribbon, and most of all, ideas.  As a family caregiver, have you thought about gift giving for your loved one?  Would you give her another piece for her collection of china cats?  Will you get him an interesting antique tool to put in his workshop?

Does he or she really need another “thing”?  According to a recent survey, 95% of men and women in this country over the age of 60 say they have either just the right amount of things they need or too many things entirely (that’s 35% and 60%, respectively).  Perhaps adding another possession onto the pile is going to cause more difficulty than good.  How can we say that?

Paula Span, a writer on elder issues for the New York Times, tells about a condition called “possession paralysis.”  The general thought is that when seniors get to the point in their life when they need to downsize, the sheer amount of their possessions is a hurdle that seems insurmountable.

Dr. Eckerdt of the University of Kansas was consulted about his research into the issue of possession paralysis.  He asked respondents how reluctant they felt about moving, while considering the work of relocating or disposing of their possessions.  As it turns out, 48% felt “very reluctant” to move, and another 30% felt “somewhat reluctant.”  It is powerful to think that more than 3/4 of people over 60 feel trapped by their belongings.

When thinking of gift giving then, think of not just gifts wrapped in paper and ribbon, but experiences to share with your loved one.  Can you take him to a play or a concert?  Would she enjoy a neck massage and pedicure?  Would a small treat like organic chocolate or penny candy from their childhood be well-received?  Think about the enjoyment your loved one would get from a new selection of music on their MP3 player or record player.  All of these ideas (and more) take up little to no space or can be consumed.