Tag Archives: family

Tokens of Love: Heartfelt Gifts Ease Senior Loneliness and Isolation

This post originally appeared on the LivHome blog.

More than 40% of adults over 60 feel lonely on a regular basis, and the cost of senior isolation is high: chronic loneliness among older adults is a predictor of functional decline and even death. Unfortunately, in our modern times seniors and their families often live far apart. How do we stay close to older loved ones when we can’t see them every day?

I believe very strongly in the power of thoughtful gifts to ease senior isolation. Gifts are a great way to show love when you’re not able to visit. Don’t know what to get? Here are a few gift guidelines:

  • Keep it simple. Most people over 60 have all the “stuff” they need. Rather than sending large or expensive items, send a few smaller gifts. Things that they can use such as snacks, stationery, and personal care items are always appreciated.
  • Make it pretty. Nicely wrapped presents, no matter what they are, really show that you care.
  • Make it personal. The best part of the gift is the thought behind it. That warm feeling of being loved lasts much longer than the present itself. Personal touches like photos and a note add a great deal to the gift experience.

My own grandparents live thousands of miles away. The best part about sending them gifts is always the phone call that comes when the package arrives, when I can hear the joy in their voices. These experiences inspired me to create a service that helps other people stay close to their older loved ones.

My company Gramsly makes care packages for seniors, and we customize each one based on the intended recipient. I love learning about my customer’s loved ones and and choosing the perfect gifts for them. Every box tells a unique story that I feel privileged to share. One person sent a Gramsly box to celebrate a 99th birthday. Another client sent a box to her grandmother who was unable to attend her upcoming wedding. Gramsly boxes are also sent as “get well” gifts or holiday presents. In all cases, the senior recipients are overjoyed that someone thought enough of them to send a present. Most importantly, the gift giving invariably leads to a heartfelt conversation between the giver and the recipient, bringing them closer together.

Every day Gramsly helps families stay connected. If you’d like to send a gift to someone special, please visit our website for more information.

What happens when you give a Gramsly box?

Most of our customers live far from their older loved ones, and don’t get to see the immediate reaction when a Gramsly gift is delivered:

 

Meet Mark

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“My history is unique.” This is the first thing Mark says to me when we meet. “Some people say that their own lives are ordinary, but in reality that is never true.”  Mark and his family were European Jews who came to the United States from Belgium.  He grew up speaking French at home, but for the most part his parents wanted to leave their European background behind. “My parents always said they came to America to be Americans. It was deeply impressed upon us that the U.S. was our home.” According to Mark, coming to the U.S. was an “overwhelming experience,” but he embraced his adopted country by learning its history. “I wanted to know especially about the South and the black experience,” he says. “It’s very important.”

Teaching and education have always been important to Mark. “My mother was an extraordinary teacher, and somebody really special. She was a tremendous influence on me.” Mark went to Queens College. He continued his studies after graduating, eventually becoming a physics professor in Indiana. Mark’s former students, now professors themselves, still keep in contact with him.

Married for many years, Mark becomes very emotional when talking about his wife. “[My wife] is an important factor in my life.  She’s a very beautiful woman. An extraordinary woman.” Mark and his wife both love traveling and meeting new people. They once spent a year in Italy, living with a host family as part of an exchange program. “I still remember the family we stayed with. We kept in touch for many years.” These days he doesn’t get to travel very much, but he enjoys music. Although Mark was taught the violin as a child, according to him, “it failed.” He ended up enjoying singing a great deal. Mark tells me his favorite songs are those by the Beatles, and spirituals from the American South. Mark is also a foodie, and enjoys playing games. “When people come to visit, I get out my walker and I play games with them.” 

He decides not to open his Gramsly box right away, instead saving it for later. Among other things, it contains some gourmet snacks and a Domino set to entertain his many guests.

At our last meeting, Mark says he is continuing to enjoy life. “I’m not ready to give up yet,” he says with a big smile. At the end of our chat, he leaves me with a quote: 

“My life has been good, and it’s not over yet!”    


 

This post is part of our Meet a Senior blog series, in which we showcase senior citizens and tell their stories. All of our subjects receive a customized Gramsly box as a thank you for their participation. If you know a senior (including yourself!) that wants to participate, please contact info@gramsly.com.

Alive Inside: Music + Dementia

Music & Memory is a nonprofit that provides personalized music therapy for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia:

Based on neuroscience research, Music & Memory helps set up playlists that trigger deep memories not lost to dementia, enabling patients to” feel like themselves again.” According to their website, the program consistently yields the following results in nursing home patients:

  • Residents are happier and more social.

  • Relationships among staff, residents and family deepen.

  • Everyone benefits from a calmer, more supportive social environment.

  • Staff regain valuable time previously lost to behavior management issues.

  • There is growing evidence that a personalized music program gives professionals one more tool in their effort to reduce reliance on anti-psychotic medications.

For more information, or to donate to the organization, please visit http://musicandmemory.org/.

What goes in a Gramsly Box?

People often ask how we choose what goes in Gramsly boxes. Unlike other care package companies, we provide a personalized gift experience. There is no “standard” Gramsly box – we customize each one based on the intended recipient.

Why do we do this? The reasoning is simple. Gramsly believes that every senior is special. We’re all unique, and that doesn’t simply go away when we get older! We also believe that the real joy in gift giving is the thought behind the present. Our customers describe their loved ones to us, often painting a vivid picture of the gift recipient. This enables us to find just the right items to put in each box.

In this post, we thought we’d show you some recent Gramsly boxes and explain why certain items were chosen:

Gramsly Box

The first box was created for an active woman in a senior living community. She loves snacks, especially sweets. We chose several sweet snacks that are healthy, including kettle cooked apples and fruit & nut bars. We added dark chocolate and hot cocoa because they taste good, and because regular consumption is linked to health benefits for older people. This box also contains a stationery kit (complete with blank notecards, envelopes, stamps, and pens) for keeping in touch with her grandchildren.

Gramsly Box

We created the second box for a older gentlemen who spends a lot of time in medical facilities. We included warm socks, since these places are often cold, and items that help pass the time while waiting: a puzzle book and earbuds for his iPod. The gift recipient is a baseball fan, so we put in some vintage cards from one of his favorite teams. The box also contains a few snacks that are suitable for his diet.

We love learning about our customer’s loved ones and and choosing the perfect gifts for them. Every box tells a unique story that we feel privileged to share.

Every day we help people stay connected with their older loved ones. If you’d like to send a Gramsly box to someone special, please visit our website for more information.

 

Announcing Gramsly’s “Meet A Senior” blog series

Here at Gramsly we’re always on the lookout for interesting and uplifting content about senior citizens. So much of the news focuses on the darker side of life. For instance, this morning the top result of a Google News search for “grandmother” was a gruesome story about a grandmother murdered in a nudist community.  The second most popular story was about a grandmother and her 3 grandchildren perishing in a mobile home fire. But at the same time, so many wonderful things are happening in the senior world:

We understand that the media outlets have a job to do, and that job includes reporting the bad news. However, we know that there’s a lot more to the story of getting older than what is being reported. Gramsly loves senior citizens and thinks they deserve to be celebrated for their wisdom & life experiences, and recognized as human beings with valuable stories to tell. That’s why we’re starting a new series on the blog called “Meet A Senior,” where we’ll feature senior citizens and tell their stories.

The good news is that anyone can be featured! If you know a senior (including yourself!) that wants to participate, please contact info@gramsly.com.

 

11 year old girl designs unbreakable cup for Parkinson’s patients (like her grandfather).

Have you heard about Kangaroo Cups? Designed by 11 year old Lily Born, these 3-legged cups help patients with Parkinson’s Disease drink without spilling. Kangaroo Cups are a really family affair – Lily’s inspiration was her grandfather, who has Parkinson’s, and her production team includes her father, who has brought many products to market in the past:

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Top: Lily’s grandfather with an early version of the Kangaroo Cup. Middle: Stacked ceramic Kangaroo Cups. Bottom: Inventor Lily. Photos courtesy of the Kangaroo Cup website.

On May 9, 2014, Lily and her team launched a Kickstarter campaign to make an unbreakable plastic version of the Kangaroo Cup. Their goal is $25,000, and as of today, more than $36,000 has been pledged from over 1000 backers. We at Gramsly love the idea behind Kangaroo Cup, and we love that it was started by a young girl to help her grandfather.