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 www.dynamic-living.com or call (562) 907-0888
or www.independentliving.com or call (800) 288-9941.
Happy holidays to you and your elderly friends
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.