Life Care Consulting by Barbara Hance - Financial and Personal Management Service for the Elderly, Frail and the Busy
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Holiday Gift-Giving for Elderly Can Be Challenge

Now that the holiday season is here, I’d like to offer some thoughts about special gifts for older people.

Cheering a loved one who has special needs can be a unique challenge.

Family members should first assess the elder’s strengths and weaknesses, and choose a gift that can surely be used. It’s always a good idea to test the gift before you purchase it and be sure that it can be returned if necessary.

We have a client who has a problem projecting her voice to a level that can be easily heard. I chose a small microphone that is worn on a lightweight “necklace”, leaving her hands free to operate her wheelchair. The microphone allows her to better socialize and communicate with others.

Another good idea is specially designed bottles, jars and can openers. Look for those that require little or no pressure or twisting. Anything that makes life easier for an arthritic is a welcome gift.

Products with large buttons, such as “universal” remote controls and touch-tone telephones with large lighted display pads, are great for older people.

Some of these products, which can be programmed for speed dialing, have large buttons that can accommodate photos of people who are frequently called. Photos can be changed when necessary. This kind of gift is particularly good for elders who have memory problems.

“Talking” indoor and outdoor thermometers can be especially useful in New England where temperatures can change quickly. These thermometers work simply with the push of a button.

You can also choose a “talking” clock that announces the time on the hour or by command. For people who are sight deficient, choose various items that come in Braille, such as books, money markers, wristwatches and labelers.

Folding canes that illuminate in the dark are a great gift for anyone who depends on a cane to get around. These canes can easily be located a nighttime, a very important feature for safety and convenience. For card players, there are decks of cards with large numbers, automatic card shufflers and card holders.

Another welcome gift item: chairs that have an electric lift seat to assist people who have difficulty getting in and out of their favorite chairs.

Or, consider large magnifiers for reading instructions and telephone books, “talking” watches, digital memo recorders, telephone amplifiers, easy-touch door handles, cassette player, and books on tape.

For people who live in skilled nursing settings, consider a bulletin board for greeting cards, photos and notes.

People in assisted living facility who have memory problems might appreciate a “memory box” (shadow box) that contains one or two personal items and can be affixed to their door to help them identify their living space. You can shop for many of these and other good products on the internet. See or call (562) 907-0888 or or call (800) 288-9941.

Happy holidays to you and your elderly friends and relatives.

Remember, this is a great time to surprise them with special gifts that will help to make their lives a lot easier in the year ahead.

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