By: The My Medicare Matters Team
Mother’s Day is one of our favorite days of the year. After all, who deserves to be celebrated more than the wonderful mom(s) in your life? And while gifting flowers or chocolates is often considered the norm, many of the best presents don’t come in fancy boxes or tied with ribbons. Check out our four unique gift ideas below!
1. Grocery Store Gift Cards
Sadly, a surprising number of older people are malnourished. And an older mom is just as susceptible, even if she was the one who made you eat your vegetables back in the day. Older adults sometimes compare today’s grocery store prices with what they were used to in the past, and consequently pass up on food choices that they perceive as too expensive. The result can be an over-reliance on cheaper foods loaded with salt, sugar, and other unhealthy preservatives.
The solution? Get your mom a grocery store gift card so she can buy fresh and healthy food (without worrying about breaking the bank). You could even have a gift basket delivered to her home with a week’s worth of nutritious options inside. If you’re not sure where to start, try consulting the NCOA Healthy Eating Guide for more tips on healthy options for older adults.
2. A Real Letter
In the Age of the Internet, it can be all too easy to rely on quick texts and emails to stay up-to-date on your parents’ lives–and thereby miss out on deeper, more meaningful forms of connection.
Try writing your mom a long, handwritten letter about what an incredible influence she has had on your life. A description of all of the ways her guidance has shaped your life decisions, favorite pastimes, cherished memories, etc will be worth way more to her than a bag of fancy chocolates.
3. Planning A “Real Visit”
Maybe you’re busy right now, but is there a time in the next few months that you can devote 48 hours to hanging out with your mom? We’re not talking about helping with errands or fixing the blinds. We’re proposing a dedicated, one-on-one bonding session. Take her to her favorite restaurant, or rent some of her favorite movies to watch together.
We often become so busy trying to cross everything off of our “to-do” list that we neglect to genuinely bond with the moms in our lives. So make the time to change that now. It will mean the world to her.
4. A Regular Health Check-In
Moms put a lot of time into getting you where you are in the world. They were often the ones to drag you to every doctor’s appointment, hold your hand during shots, and check your fevers in the middle of the night. Now it’s time to return the favor. Regularly checking in on your mom’s health can be one of the best ways to show her that you care.
To start, is your mom up-to-date with her preventive services through Medicare? Is she of an age where she still needs mammograms? What were her “numbers” at her latest Annual Wellness Visit? Are there medications she is supposed to be taking (but struggling to afford)? Helping her review her Part D prescription drug plan (and making sure she has the most affordable plan for her needs) is one of the best ways you can help. For assistance with reviewing her Medicare coverage options, check out the free Medicare Questionnaire tool, or try calling her local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
Even if you can’t be physically present, there are still certain steps you can take. Are there other people who interact with your mother who might be willing to give you a heads up about any health developments? Is she connected with her local senior center, religious organization or neighborhood bridge group? Can a cousin or neighbor let you know if they notice that her driving seems erratic (she may need a vision or hearing screening) or if she seems to be losing or gaining weight? Depression is also a significant risk in isolated elders, so anyone who can keep an eye on common symptoms is invaluable.
Finally, even just taking the time to listen can make a big difference. Sometimes we get so used to hearing about minor health complaints (“My back is still hurting” or “I keep getting these headaches”) that we tune them out rather than taking them seriously. Take the time to consider the broader implications of these health issues, and make sure she has talked to her doctor about them. Your mom took care of your stomach bugs and runny nose when you were a kid–now it’s your turn!