A Place For Who?

Perhaps you have seen the advertisements on television for A Place for Mom, “the nation’s largest FREE elder care referral service.” According to its website, A Place for Mom can direct you to elder care resources and living arrangements in your area. Despite its title, A Place for Mom is a service for anyone who is elderly and needs help – it’s not just for elderly moms.

It’s rather interesting that the company’s title singles out moms. Why not mention dads? Maybe they’re just cutting to the chase and saying, “Listen, we all know that mom is the most important, and no one really cares where dad goes,” so they decided to name the website solely after the matriarch of the family.

Who on earth was their marketing consultant? A place for mom. It sounds like they are trying to find a spot for chipped China dishes or old sneakers they’re not quite ready to throw away. I envision the company’s title stemming from three squabbling siblings, sitting around a computer arguing over what to do with their ailing mother.

“I’m not taking her! Hell no. I had her for the past five Christmases and you know how THAT turned out.”

“Well, she can’t live with us! I simply don’t have the room now that Jake moved back home and converted his bedroom into a studio so he and his rock band can practice.”

“Someone has to take her.  Here, hand me your laptop. Let me Google ‘where to put your mom’ and see what happens. There has to be someplace for her to go.”

“A place for her to go … hmm… a place for mom. You know, that kind of has a nice ring to it.”

While my stint in medical social work was fairly brief, I can tell you with full certainty that the elderly do not like moving into  assisted living facilities. It means losing their last shred of independence; it’s the final step before the big NH (nursing home). Now picture the situation being made worse by referring to a company called  A Place For Mom.

“Uncle Tom, you know it’s no longer safe for you to live home alone. Karen and I are worried about you, especially since the last kitchen fire. We really think it’s time for you to move into a facility where you will be cared for.”

“I’m not moving into any nursing home. Those are for old people.”

“Now Uncle Tom, it’s not a nursing home. Karen and I used the services of A Place For Mom and we found the best -”

“A place for Tom? It’s named after me?”

“Not a place for Tom. It was called A Place For MOM. Not TOM. MOM.”

Mom? I’m not a woman! Why are you putting me in a ladies place?”

Need I go on?

In reality, the company’s intention may not have been to exclude dads or other people. The original name could very well have been A Place for Mom, Dad, Aunts, Uncles, Crotchety Neighbors and Elderly Family Friends. Or A Place for Mom, Dad, et al. I suppose they also  figured So They Don’t Have To Live With You would not only be crass, but equally wordy.  End result? The name A Place for Mom was chosen.


A Guide To Gift Giving

The season of gift giving has arrived! As we elbow our way through crowded malls, ruminating over prices and searching for the proper present, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. What if she already has this? Would he be a large or a medium? Wait. Did she say she was or wasn’t allergic to peanuts?

While I certainly cannot provide assistance with all of these common shopping dilemmas, I can share some gift giving wisdom I have learned throughout the years.

1. If the gift is to be opened in front of a large group of people (say an office party, or a gathering of extended family members), avoid giving underwear. As a teenager, my grandmother gave me a pair of white brief underwear the size of Alaska. As I unfolded the underpants and held them up at arms length, an awkward silence filled the room.

2. Regifting is tricky. (Personally, I can’t help but feel the person who is receiving the regifted gift has been duped.) If you are a regifter (“not that there’s anything wrong with that”) remember to keep track of who originally gave you the gift. I know someone who received the gift she had given that person. That’s right: The regifter regifted the gift back to the original giver.

3. Gift Cards are safe, safe, safe. Somewhere along the way, gift cards developed the stigma of not having enough thought put into the purchase of them. Huh? Picture being in a store and someone handing you fifty dollars to spend in the store at that moment. How luxurious! However, just be careful and make sure the gift card is appropriate for the recipient. Giving a pacifist an annual membership to the NRA would go over like a lead balloon, as would presenting your vegan boss with a gift card to Omaha Steaks.

4. For those friends/family who have birthdays around Christmas/Chanukah, never, ever do a “this is your birthday AND Christmas (Chanukah) gift! Unless, of course, the gift is extravagant. (I’m talking new car extravagant.) Handing someone a tin of flavored popcorn while singing, “Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday!” makes the receiver feel a bit gypped. Trust me, by combining these two events, you’re not fooling anyone.

5. When buying gifts for children, decide who you want to like you more: the kid or parent. While practical gifts are generally despised by children (my husband still remembers sulking over the bathrobe he received as a Christmas gift when he was eight years old), they are very appreciated by parents. Toys that kids love – drum sets or life-like sounding fire engines –  can drive parents batty. Prior to purchasing a gift for a child, decide beforehand what you want to accomplish.

In conclusion, as much as we may think that we’ve received some bad gifts over the years, if we’re honest with ourselves, chances are we have given just as many bad gifts too. So we need not get indignant and hold grudges. Basically – don’t sweat it. There is always next year.