Birthday present for mum

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by BeadieJay, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. My mum will be 80 in December and we are having a small family get-together for her.

    My sister has booked the meal, and has given me the "priviledge" of sorting out a present that we can all contribute to.

    A bit of background about mum. She became ill earlier this year, has had one brain scan which didn't show any damage, and is due another scan next week. She has no short-term memory, and her long-term memory is seriously diminished. She spends most of her day sat by the living-room window looking out at the garden. She doesn't read anymore because she can't remember plots; she used to be so active, but now the most she does is a walk each morning and occasionally goes shopping with a friend. My dad also has no short-term memory, though his long-term memory is exceptional, and he's basically become mum's carer.

    I have absolutely no idea what we could buy her to celebrate her special day. The one thing I did think of was to have a professional photo of all her grandchildren, but they are all too widespread for that to happen.

    If anyone has any ideas, I'd be very grateful.

    As an aside, does anyone know of any forums set up for those affected by the recent floods? I haven't found anything using Google, so it's a long-shot that someone here might know of something, but I'm going crazy and could really use talking to others going through the same thing.
  2. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    While you might not be able to get all the grandchildren together, could you not get photos from all of them and make an amalagamation of them (either yourself or a professional photo editor)?
  3. lizzie2596

    lizzie2596 Registered User

    Jul 3, 2007
    It was my Mum's 81st Birthday a few weeks after she went into the CH. I didn't want to get her something that might go astray at the home, especially photographs in frames. Instead I scanned some of our favourite photos and printed out fresh, enlarged copies to put in an album for her present.

    I was really pleased on Sunday when one of the staff told me that Mum often sat down with her to show her the album and tell her who everyone was, although I don't think she gets everything right now.

    I found this to be a good way to compile photos of family members past and present.

    Liz x
  4. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hello BeadieJay,

    I was going to make the same suggestion as jennifer, but she beat me to it. You can get photo frames with several cut-outs , each one for a separate photo. Your mother might like that, filled with photos of the grandchildren.

    Talking of photos. Do you have a nice photo of your mother when she was young. That can be transposed onto a birthday cake. There are lots of firms that do it.

    I don`t know about any flood website. It sounds as if you are having trouble getting straight. I`m so sorry. It has all been long forgotten by those of us who weren`t affected, and it seems you are still picking up the pieces.

    I did read in the paper last week that those who were uninsured are getting a better deal than those who are insured. If it`s true, it`s sickening.

    Hope your mother has a lovely party, whatever you decide to do for her.

    Love xx
  5. allylee

    allylee Registered User

    Feb 28, 2005
    west mids

    I also complied a photo album for my mum as her memory got poorer, but also through started tracing mums family tree.

    Through the archive online census I got masses of information about her grandparents,parents, marriage dates, occupation etc , also neighbous they had as kids, stuff I never would have known.

    Much of this information really enhanced mums recollection of the past and she delighted in talking about it.

    Good luck

    Ally xx
  6. Margaret W

    Margaret W Registered User

    Apr 28, 2007
    North Derbyshire
    Birthday present

    When mum went into hospital for assessment the Occupational Therapist asked if I had any old photos of mum, to put in a "memory box", or indeed any trinkets of importance, small ornaments or similar. I couldn't think of anything at all, I had no old photos, and mum never mentioned any, indeed was never interested in anything like that.

    Two days before she came out of the hospital (to the care home) I went to her house and found drawers full of old photos in no particular order, many damaged, just stuffed in as if they weren't really wanted. I selected a few and took them to the hospital. The OT sat with my mum and looked through them. One of mum and me aged about 18 months appeared on the hospital wall!

    Mum was absolutely furious that I had "given" these photos to the OT, she said "I could have had those". Of course, I got them back. So I've now got a scrap book, about £10 from Partners, but quite nice, and I've picked out a selection of photos. Me and Mum and Dad, Mum and dad when they were courting, Mum's sisters and their husbands and children, me and my cousin on holiday with mum and dad aged 4 and 5, Mum's parents, and so on. Even a photo of Blackpool Tower cos we went there every year. I'm in the process of putting them in the book, and on each page writing a little about the photos, who they are, when and where they were taken.

    I. too have investigated the family tree, so I'll learn how to print some of that out and put that at the beginning. Mum wasn't remotely interested in that when I was doing if before she was ill, but who knows?

    I was going to do it for next week, no special day, but I might leave it till Christmas as a lovely present, there isn't much else she needs.

    Another thought, but depends on mum and dad, is to get all the children and grandchildren to record something for your mum (and dad), either just voice or video. I am useless on technology, but I'm sure however remote they are they could record something and send it via the web, and you could put it on a CD. Even just "Hi grandma, its Jody here, just to wish you happy birthday. I've been playing with my friend Emma today, it was really fun. Hope you and grandad are both okay".

    Another idea is to get all her grandchildren to make their own card for her. You can get kits to help them, or they can just do their own thing with scraps of material and coloured paper. Put them in a little photo album.

    In fact, this is probably a problem for lots of us - what to buy mum and dad for presents. Even those without AD. Hope you get some useful ideas.


  7. Kate P

    Kate P Registered User

    Jul 6, 2007
    Hi BeadieJay,

    Well my first thought was a collage of pictures - my cousin did one for mum for her 60th birthday of all the family and she liked it.

    My other thought is that if she likes to sit and look out at the garden could you get some nice bird tables/baths and other things that would encourage wildlife into the garden for her to look at?
  8. DeborahBlythe

    DeborahBlythe Registered User

    Dec 1, 2006
    Hello BeadieJay, Kate beat me to it on the suggestion about bird tables or feeders to encourage birds or wildlife. And what brilliant ideas all through this thread!

    My mum's eyesight is now so poor that photos are not much use to her but the suggestion about the recording of greetings is nice. ( There is actually a greetings cards you can buy which allows you to record a message that plays when you open it! Good fun!) Memory boxes are a good idea too. I'm increasingly thinking about helping people with visual impairments and whether you can create a memory box which isn't 'enclosed' but which allows the person to touch and feel different textures which might bring back memories. Scents too. I wonder where you can get hold of 'old' perfumes?
    What a wonderful idea of Sylvia's about the cake with the photo on it! ( There speaks a member of the TP slimming club looking for an excuse!)
    I do hope your mum has a lovely day. Best wishes, Deborah
  9. Laylabud

    Laylabud Registered User

    Sep 7, 2007
    My Mother was 80 last October and is fast appraochng 81, i am also stuck for ideas as she is soon to go into an EMI nursing home, the photos are a good idea so might try that, although she has a small photo in her room at the hospital at the moment of which she shows no interest.

    I bought her a gold locket for her 80th with photo's of my dad who sadly died 10 years ago very suddenly and she loved it at the time but has now lost interest in it.

    Does your Mum like music, maybe a small cd player with headphones might be an idea to give her. It is very difficult to know what to do.

    Good luck and hope your mum has a brilliant day.

    Layla Bud
  10. Dear BeadieJay,

    Great ideas from everyone!

    The photo album of familiar people (things and places - childhood) is a good idea and the larger photos for the walls (use your computer and see if you can get photo paper).

    If you can find a ‘pound store’ (we call them dollar stores here – very inexpensive), see if you can get big calendars with the nice big pictures. My mum likes lighthouses and birds so I pull the pictures out of the calendars and put those up on the walls.

    What we value or what our loved one valued is not necessarily what they want. For example my mother liked nice jewelry. Today she likes dazzling jewels. These can be cheaper costume trinkets (easily replaced if lost or broken) but they look like the crown jewels and dazzle the eyes with the shine and colours. People with dementia like this. They also like ‘feeling’ soft fabric, and colours (sometimes bright) that they have traditionally enjoyed. My mum really gravitates to pastels, pinks, blues, mauves as well as tartans. (She always wants the tartan bib opposed to the checked ones.)

    (Each season/holiday I change the decorations on one of my mum’s walls. It is my hope this gives her a reference point in time.)

    The CD player is a great idea. MUSIC is a wonderful therapeutic tool. See if you can get music your mother likes such as Hymns, bird sounds, ocean, Enya, Celtic or some 40’s, 50’ or 60’s tune that she can relate too. This is an invaluable tool (used it for years) for putting my mum to sleep at night. The care aides would come to rely on the CD’s (I burned some off my computer too), to make her mellow and lull her to sleep.

    The part of the brain the processed music stays the longest. That is why some people can sing and not speak. Music soothes the soul and brings positive energy to our emotions and uplifts us. It also puts us into a meditative state that calms us.

    These things can all bring enjoyment and the feeling of wellbeing. Small gifts to us perhaps, but huge gifts to those with dementia.

    Have a great birthday!
    Jennifer Sierra
  11. Thank you for all the fantastic ideas - I did already do one of the suggestions for my dad's 80th two years ago. Actually, it was more an 81st birthday present as it took me so long to do!! I took all the photos that were taken at his surprise party and put them in a scrapbook and then added loads of accessories to make it much more than just a photo album. I was so pleased with it when it was finished, and both my mum and dad loved it. Trouble is, I just can't do anything like that again, because of the state of our house after the flood (more of that in a minute, so if you're not interested, you'd better quit now LOL:p )

    I think the garden might be something to focus on, she used to love gardening when she was well enough, and now has a gardener who comes every 2 weeks. I will have a look on the web and see if I can find anything extra special that could be put in the garden (they already have a bird feeder), but it might be the best solution. I know it's always difficult buying presents for anyone over a certain age, when they seem to already have everything they could possibly want or need, but when it's a special birthday, it's so nice to make an extra special effort - so thank you for the ideas, I'm very grateful.

    I love the idea of a photo on the birthday cake - thank you for another brilliant suggestion :D

    I'm hoping I've managed to attach a photo to this post - it shows the state of our kitchen, we've had all the lower cupboards removed as 1/3rd of the plaster has been taken off the walls throughout the downstairs - this is to speed up the drying process :rolleyes: Seven weeks on and our house is still officially damp. They won't do any repair work until it's been certified as dry, and we have no idea how long that will take. One of the hardest things for me is that I feel like I'm a second-class citizen - we had a carpet fitter visit us the other day with samples for us to choose from, and his attitude was disgusting. If we had been private customers (i.e. not having the Insurance Company paying for the carpet and fitting), I'm sure he would not have spoken to us in the way he did.

    I'm beginning to wish that we had moved into rented accommodation, life would certainly be more cosy. As it is, we're living out of boxes and fighting depression. We have no idea how much longer we'll have to live like this - the only good thing is that eventually we'll have a brand-new living room, dining area and kitchen. But I'd still give anything for my old tatty carpet and messy lounge like it was before the flood :eek:

    Attached Files:

  12. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    I would be inclined to report that carpet installer: if he's getting paid by anyone he should be courteous, and let's face, this is business that he wouldn't be getting otherwise.

    The mention of bird feeders reminded me: some time before her strokes I got my mother one that attached to the window and had something on the back so that while the birds couldn't see in the house and be startled, someone inside could see them: if you were so inclined you could get within a couple of inches of them.
  13. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Oh BeadieJay, I`m not surprised you`re depressed. I`d be screaming if my kitchen was still like that after so long.

    There`s nothing worse than a house which doesn`t feel like home, and I`m sure yours doesn`t right now.
    How much longer will it be before it`s considered dry enough? We`ve had a few warm days, has that helped?

    Love xx
  14. Hi Jennifer - I really like the sound of that bird feeder, wouldn't mind having one myself :D I'm going to search the web tomorrow and see what I can find.

    I'm going to mention the carpet fitter to my Loss Adjustor when I next speak to him, because he really was unpleasant. Maybe it was just a bad day for him, but we're still paying customers, whether it comes from our account or the Insurer's. :mad:

    Sylvia, you're so right, this doesn't feel like a home right now - everything that makes our house a home has been packed away into boxes! It got so bad the other day, that we couldn't find the dog's food - we knew it was in a box somewhere, but if you could see our conservatory, well, let's put it this way, I wouldn't like anyone who was claustrophobic to go in there as the boxes rise to the ceiling :eek:

    The warm weather has been wonderful, but actually not very useful for drying the house. We have been given a de-humidifier, and it's on constantly, but is supposed to be used in an enclosed area, i.e. no open doors or windows. Well, with this lovely weather we've had all the windows open of course, but there has been a lot of water gathered in the de-humidifier, so it's doing its job thankfully.

    I don't know when the house will be considered dry, partly because the man who came to measure the moisture last week didn't have a clue what he was doing. He was actually a furniture restorer, but has been recruited to do this new job because there are just so many houses affected. It would be comical if it wasn't so serious :eek:
  15. mocha

    mocha Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    Lancs, England
    Birthday Cake

    I don't know if this will work but it is a photo of Ron's Birthday Cake showing him when he was in his 30's. It was taken at the NH when we had his party in June.

    Attached Files:

  16. mocha

    mocha Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    Lancs, England
    Sorry........I haven't got this sizing right yet :eek: :eek: :eek:

  17. valeen

    valeen Registered User

    Mar 23, 2006
    For my Mom's 75th birthday my sister came up with the great idea of making a book with 75 reasons why & what we love about her..all the children & grandchildren wrote in it (unless they were too far then one of us would write what ever they wanted to say) It turned out to be a beautiful book & she just loves reading & rereading it. It's a great way to hold onto those memories that get so easily forgotten...we had lots more than 75 the book is quite long! Good luck :)
  18. An update


    A bit of an update, as I had a long chat with my sister today. Basically, she's now decided that none of us should get a present for mum, but instead make a donation to Breast Cancer charity (mum had breast cancer last year). Her reasons for this are that mum is so confused that she simply wouldn't know what to do with any gift we give her.......the garden thing was a great idea, but apparently mum has loads of different things in her garden already and she really wouldn't take any notice of one more. I suggested giving mum a large cross stitch that I've almost finished working on - lots of flowers, very bright and cheerful, but my sister said it would be a waste of time giving it to mum as she wouldn't remember who'd given it to her, or why, and probably would never even look at it :eek: (am secretly glad about this, as I want to decorate my lounge with my cross stitch pictures, whenever it's repaired after the flood).

    Mum saw the consultant last month and it seems that he might be thinking that mum had a stroke. When I first started writing here about mum, someone here suggested her symptoms sounded like a stroke, and I've waited a long time (well, it seems like a long time, but is actually only a matter of months), for the consultant to agree......even though he hasn't come right out and said it yet. Mum was apparently very anxious during the meeting with the consultant and when he asked her why, she said that she was worried about giving the wrong answers. So part of her is worried about embarrassing herself infront of my sister, who sits in with her at these appointments. Next time my sis won't go in so that mum hopefully won't be embarrassed, and she can talk to the consultant afterwards for his comments.

    Anyway, the consultant asked my sister if she'd noticed mum walking or talking differently, which she hasn't, but this is so obviously pointing to a stroke. I asked my sis if he'd mentioned Alzheimers and she practically jumped down my throat and said that there was no way it was Alzheimers because mum could still walk and dress herself etc......I put her right (thanks to all I've learnt from this forum) that Az progresses slowly, and just because mum can function well now, doesn't mean she won't deteriorate over the months and years. I'm still really keen to have a name to what's wrong with her; I'm not sure why it's so important to me, maybe it's so that I can research it and be aware of how things may change in the future.....for what it's worth, I still fear that she does have Az, and all the things my sister said about mum's birthday just seem to confirm it.

    I don't know whether this last thing is funny, sad or what, but I wanted to share it. My mum has always been very fashionable, and she went to the hairdresser every week and always had her hair coloured. When she first got sick she stopped going to the hairdresser, till my sister persuaded her back, but she no longer has her hair coloured, so she's finally gone natural, and natural means "white" :eek: I put the "eek" character there, cos that's how mum feels about it - every single time that I talk to her on the phone, she tells me that she's white now!

    I can understand why it upsets her, but am confused as to why it's such a big thing with her when she has no long or short term memory anymore. What is it that reminds her every time we talk, to tell me about her hair, and yet she can't remember that she's already told me a dozen or more times!!

    That's the end of my update - I have no update on my house, cos nothing has changed since I posted the photo of my kitchen :( The house is dry now, we're just waiting for the repairs to take place, and waiting, and waiting and waiting :rolleyes: :p
  19. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    Is it possible that there is a mirror near the phone, so that everytime she goes to make a call or answer it she's confronted with this reminder? Just a thought.

    Towards the end of my mother's life I tended to purchase presents that were of the immediate gratification variety: a plant she could look at, a bottle of irish cream, a pack of chocolate covered ginger. She sure didn't need any more stuff.
  20. Oh my goodness - yes, I'd totally forgotten about the mirror in the hall, which is where the phone is, of course, that makes total sense, thanks Jennifer :)

    I was thinking of buying (or sending) mum a lovely bouquet which is already in a vase, so she doesn't have to do anything with it. I can't bear to go empty handed despite what my sister says. (I meant to put that in my last post!) :eek:

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