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Top Holiday gifts for older or disabled people

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Thoughtful gifts for older or disabled people..

Christmas and other Holidays are a time for sharing, but when it comes to gifts it can be hard to buy something useful for older adults or those suffering from disabilities. Rather than throw away money on items that elders can't use, a Loyola University Experts suggests we should think about "practical gifts" that can make life easier for seniors and anyone with physical limitations.

Debbie Jansky, assistant nurse manager, Home Health Services at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital points out that 13 percent of the population is age 65 or older and many are living with disabilities or chronic health conditions.

When it comes to buying Christmas gifts for older people, choosing a sweater, pajamas or perfume are all thoughtful, but might not be practical.

“It’s very sad to see patients receive gifts of expensive perfume or cardigans that they will never enjoy because they can’t open the bottle or unbutton the buttons,” Jansky said.

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Top Christmas Gifts that Elders Prefer

Here is Jansky's suggestions for Christmas gifts that we've expounded on that she says older or diabled people actually prefer:

  • Pill organizer: Helping your love one keep track of medications will lead to peace of mind, Jansky says. It can also help keep elderly individuals from taking the wrong medicine at the wrong time which means lower chance of a trip to the doctor or hospital. Pill organizers are an inexpensive way to show you care and cost approximately $3.00. You can find a variety of organizers at most local pharmacies.
  • Medical alert bracelet: If your family member or loved one suffers from medication allergies or chronic health conditions like diabetes or heart failure, consider a Medical alert bracelet or other type of jewelry. The cost is approximately $7 and could be lifesaving.
  • Pill punch: If your loved one received medication that needs to be "punched out" of the packaging, it can be difficult. Sometimes the medications break, which we've all experienced. A pill punch costs about $8 and can help ensure medication adherence.
  • Claw 'grabber': Anyone can use a grabber to reach things off of shelves and pick up items from the floor. Giving a grabber to an older person with disability at Christmas - or anytime - makes a thoughtful gift because it can reduce the risk of falls or injury.
  • Cane that collapses: Sometimes older people need help with balance. A collapsible cane is easy to put in a purse or coat pocket. The cost is only $27.
  • Shower bench: Having a shower bench (and a hand held shower head) can make a hug difference when it comes to bathing and safety. But many seniors forego buying one because of budgetary or other constraints. Shower benches vary in price and range from $27 to $100. You'll want to make sure you have tub measurements before buying - and if you have a friend or family member who wants to pitch in you might consider the gift of grab bars for bathtub safety that can also help prevent falls and injuries.
  • Rolling walker with a basket and seat: Most of my own patients want one of these, but they're usually too pricey for most. Knowing you can roll your walker and then sit when you're tired means a higher likelihood of staying active and healthier. Having a basket on a walker makes it much easier to do housework. The cost of a rolling walker with all of the "bells and whistles" is around $100.

One of my personal suggestions is to give the gift of food that is always appreciated by senior citizens on a tight budget who also may have difficulty getting out to shop. Other ideas include visual aids, Life Alert or other similar subscription or even a cell phone that can be carried out of doors, unlike a portable home phone.

Can you think of any other Holiday gifts you've shared with friends, parents or loved ones who are older or disabled that made a difference in their lives? Let us know and we will update this article with your suggestions.

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