We love, honor, and respect our fathers and celebrate them on Father’s Day.
Perhaps we cook their favorite meal (or let them share their prowess on the grill), encourage them to sit back and relax, or visit to hear them regale us with their favorite memories of years past.
But what gift can family caregivers give the dad who is aging?
A tie no longer seems appropriate for the dad who no longer heads to work everyday and rarely will wear one to church on Sunday anymore.
How often have family caregivers heard this mantra from our senior loved ones, “I have everything I need”?
What is the best gift for dad?
Engaging Gifts for Senior Dads
Dads who are seniors may prefer a simple visit from family members and sharing the day together.
Naturally, we want to do just a bit more to show them how much we truly appreciate all they have done for us over the years and what they have meant in terms of our own growth by being good role models.
Here are some gifts that you can give to your elder dad to spend time in an enjoyable way and taking the time to engage:
- Participate in an activity he used to love to do with you, such as playing cards. Maybe he will find it easier using a large print card deck or one that is easier for him to hold in his stiff hands. Play a game and keep score. Bragging rights are important! The opportunity for socializing and reminiscing that sitting at a table playing even a simple game like Go Fish provides will be priceless.
- Pull out a family photo album from years past or make a new one with pictures you have been collecting. This is a great time to talk about family members, learn more about the family tree, and ask questions about his life. You could even journal his answers. You may be surprised at the tidbits you never heard!
- Install an app on his tablet or smartphone for fun like Snapchat or a game like Trivia. Teach him how to use it and have fun with the challenge and potential connections with others in the family.
- Set up music playlists with him incorporating some of his favorite songs. Talk about what kind of music he enjoyed in all phases of his life. Separate them into task lists such as Dinner Time music, Porch Sitting music, Get Up and Go music, Riding in the Car music, Bath Time music, or any other list that you decide together would be enjoyable or helpful for him throughout the day in a variety of scenarios. You might learn something about his life talking about what kinds of music he finds enjoyable or what challenges he has during his day when determining what types of lists he would find helpful.
- Invite family members, including great-grand and grand-kids, to a meal. Let your dad help plan the menu, set the table, and be the ‘host’ instead of being the one for whom others are caring. Keep the conversation going with the attention of the family focused on dad. Rejoice in the moment!
- Watch a ball game together. Talk about his memories of past games, relive when you played ball together (maybe he coached your little league team) or when you went to a professional sports team’s stadium. Do you have baseball cards from years ago? Did he have a favorite player or team?
You can certainly buy dad things he may really need like a new shirt or pair of shoes to mark the occasion, but taking the extra effort to engage will be appreciated by him — and you.
Take Advantage of the Moment
Family caregivers give love and affection every day, in every way, by caring for the senior men in their lives. You may be helping them with household chores or personal care tasks. You may be managing their finances for them or driving them around town to appointments.
Family caregivers perform a variety of tasks big and small for their senior loved ones.
These are all essential tasks and they do show how much you care for your dad, but in finding ways to give him one of these engaging gifts you will enjoy time spent together when sharing is pleasurable and not daily care that is a means to an end.
Time flies quicker than we realize. Pausing to engage with dad, focusing on him as a person and not just his need for care, is something you won’t regret in the future.
Happy Father’s Day to all the senior fathers and caregiving dads!