By Kim Browning from December 2013 Issue
Holiday gifts for older folks that promote health and safety
Choosing meaningful gifts for older loved ones can be challenging, but you can select presents that will encourage people to stay mentally and physically active. The Kentucky Safe Aging Coalition encourages giving gifts that will promote independence, health, and safety.
What are good gifts to help older loved ones stay mentally engaged?
Gifts that encourage reading, such as lighted magnifiers, book holders, and bean-bag lap desks are good selections. Or keep your loved ones connected with a gift of an easy-to-use cell phone from Jitterbug or Consumer Cellular.
Other items designed for those with vision issues include large-face playing cards and big-button talking calculators. And there is always a gift membership to AARP, which can provide them with more resources for staying engaged and active.
What about presents that will encourage physical activity?
Consider gifts that are made for walking: lighted or fancy walking canes, pedometers, and comfortable walking shoes or a gift certificate for a pair. Surprise them with a gift membership to the local YMCA or a fitness center. Check to see whether their health plans cover participation in the SilverSneakers fitness program, which is widely available in Kentucky.
What are some ideas for more personal gifts for an older loved one?
Make a coupon book with coupons for services that you or your family can provide. Include coupons for rides if your loved one no longer drives. Other ideas are a donation to a favorite charity, photos of grandchildren, and gift certificates to grocery stores or favorite restaurants.
What may be the best gift for those who are aging?
The best gift you can give is your time. Many older people are socially isolated and welcome the opportunity to spend time with you. Older citizens have valuable information and interesting stories to share. You may find that you receive the best gift of all when you spend time with an older loved one. If you do not have an older family member, contact your local nursing home to set up a time with a patient who could benefit from a visit from you and your family.
KIM BROWNING, MPH, is the outreach coordinator of the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Kentucky's College of Public Health.