Last-minute gift ideas for a loved one who needs a helping hand
It can be difficult to buy a present for your favourite older person. They often say they don't need anything or don't want to accumulate extra things. Even so, consider some of the following gift ideas suggested by occupational therapists. Don't forget to combine these with the usual favourites such as home baking and an unhurried visit. All of the items listed are available through local drug stores, medical supply companies and hardware stores.
1. A motion detector night light. Great for preventing falls when walking at night, especially when the person does not like to sleep with any type of light source.
2. Telephone adaptations: The Ameriphone photophone has room for nine photographs of family and friends to be placed on the phone. Numbers are programmed in and the user presses the photo of the person he or she wishes to call. A great solution for those with memory, visual or fine motor problems. Call Hall Telecommunications at 1 (800) 265-2667.
A portable telephone amplifier, which is very easy to put on or off and is small enough to travel with, can help the user to hear the other person on the other end of the phone.
3. Bed rails. These side rails can attach to almost any bed, with the lever sliding under the mattress. These are very handy for people who have difficulty getting in or out of bed.
4. Bathing aids. Long handled bath sponges are great for bathing and showering, cost as little as $15 and help with those hard to reach places such as one's back and feet. Properly installed grab rails on the shower wall will make it easier to get in and out of the bath safely and prevent falls.
5. Ice picks for canes. Great when it becomes icy and slippery outside. The ice picks attach simply to the cane and can be found at most drugstores where canes are sold.
6. Walker accessories. For a few dollars, you can purchase a cup holder that clips to the walker and allows the person to carry a drink while using their walker. Look for ones that secure tightly to the walker. A carry bag or pouch works well for other items, such as books, eye glasses, etc.
7. Stove reminder. This requires an electrician but may be worth it for someone whose memory is failing. This gadget will automatically sound once the stove had been turned on, and will continue to sound every few minutes until the stove is finally shut off.
A microwave with easy-to-read dials can also be safer, especially for re-heating foods.
8. Recipe books with one-dish meals that can be prepared in a microwave. Look for those in large print and plain language.
9. Good-grip kitchen utensils are available in any department store. They can make peeling vegetables, slicing cheese or even squeezing lemons much easier due to their built-up, flexible handles.
10. A fanny pack or back pack allows both arms to be free when shopping.
11. A molded neck pillow helps someone to sleep in a position that will prevent neck pain. For people with arthritis this can mean a good night sleep and less neck pain the day after.
12. Personal Response Services
Services can also be a welcome gift and offer peace of mind for the giver. Lifeline is a 24-hour personal emergency response system. A person can wear a bracelet, a pendant, or clip the device to their belt. Like a pager, if they fall or have an emergency, they just press the button. Costs start at $33 per month.
Many thanks to Jennifer Brown at the STAT Centre at Vancouver Hospital for her assistance with this list.
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