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An Occupational Therapist’s List of 12 Great Gifts for Seniors

December 22, 2014

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… but it can be a bit overwhelming if you are juggling life and health and home and trying to come up with the perfect gift ideas for your elderly loved ones.

As an occupational therapist who specializes in therapy for seniors in their homes, I have a firsthand perspective on their needs. Here is my 2014 gift guide!

1. A Walking Toolkit. It’s never too late to get in shape. Walking is one of the greatest ways to prevent disease and maintain health, endurance, and wellbeing. Consider creating a gift basket with a pedometer, water bottle, and gift certificate for new sneakers. I recently got a Fitbit and am obsessed with it. It really motivates me to get out and try for 10,000 steps per day.

2. Medical ID. Anyone who walks outside alone should carry identification such as MedInfoToGo. (Full disclosure: I created this mini medical chart that fits in the pocket or wallet and documents critical health information in case of emergency.) For medical ID tools that quickly tell others you have a health condition — bracelets and necklaces, for example — check out the Medic Alert Foundation.

3. Indoor Exercise Devices. If walking is not an option a mini pedal exerciser is a great alternative. They can be used for arms or legs. Amazon carries a variety, from very simple to those that keep track of total reps, number of calories burned, and time spent exercising.

4. Gym Membership or Personal Training. Signing up your senior for a local community center or gym is another option, or perhaps in-home sessions with a personal trainer coupled with a set of hand and ankle weights or exercise resistance bands.

5. Heating Pads or Gel Wraps that go from microwave to freezer make great gifts for those with joint and muscle aches. You can find them in drugstores and kiosks in malls that sell herbal therapy packs. Designed to fit over various parts of the body, many of these pads and wraps provide the soothing properties of heat and cold combined with aromatherapy.

6. Massage. Speaking of soothing, a spa treatment or gift certificate for a massage are nice options to promote relaxation.

7. Meal Delivery. Of course, after a good workout you need to eat! One of my favorite ideas is a gift certificate for chef-prepared meals that are delivered to the recipient’s home. This is particularly helpful for long-distance caregivers who worry about their elder’s nutritional intake. The meals come ready to be reheated in the microwave and can be customized to the person’s needs and preferences (diabetic, vegetarian, gourmet…). Search “prepared meals delivered” and you will come up with plenty of options.

8. Smoothie Makers. In keeping with the healthy food theme, one of my personal favorite appliances is the Nutribullet I can make a smoothie in under a minute, get my daily kale on, and the cleanup is a breeze. This is great for those who need to boost their food intake or meet special nutritional needs.

9. Adaptive Clothing and Devices. On the website Easier Living, you’ll find almost every product a caregiver or caregivee needs, from adaptive clothing to home medical equipment to magnifiers and other low-vision aides. I love this site because you can shop by health condition or even body part.

10. Thick Terrycloth Robes simplify drying off after a shower.

11. Tools to Make Household Chores Easier. For those with stiffness, weakness and limited strength in their hands, OXO‘s designs kitchen, garden, cleaning, and hardware tools with comfortable, easy-to-use grips. Gather up a few and put them in a pretty basket. You can find OXO products on Amazon and at retailers including Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target, JC Penny, and Macy’s.

12. Have HandyBar, Will Travel. To ease transfers in and out of cars, the HandyBar is a great portable support bar that works with every type of car. You can find them at Walmart, Amazon, and many other retailers.

(Source: everydayhealth.com)


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