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Helpful Hints for the Elderly & their Caregivers

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Helpful Hints for the Elderly
& their Caregivers

Holiday Gift Giving Ideas
for the Elderly

The holiday season can be frustrating when it comes to finding a gift for Aunt Mary, Great Uncle Jim or Nana. This is especially true if they have special needs or disabilities. It gets even more challenging when your recipient is memory challenged.

Barbara Hance is an elder care expert and author of the book Don't Buy Green Bananas... a humorous journey through the sometimes puzzling world of aging. She has put together a shopping list of ideas to help with gift giving for the elderly or infirmed as well as helpful weblinks for easy shopping.

Specially designed bottles and jars - Look for specially designed bottles and jars that require little or no pressure or twisting. There are also gadgets that look like can openers that easily break pressure seals.,

Large Button Remote Controls, Telephones, Calculators – Look for specially designed telephones for children that have places to put photos next to quick dial numbers. This is especially useful for those with memory problems.,,,

“Talking” thermometers and clocks – Most of these work with just the push of a button. There are even talking wristwatches, and electronic reminders to take medications. Also alarm clocks that can vibrate bed or pillow for hearing impaired.,,

Voice Activated Light Switch – This is different than "clap on/clap off" because you can plug appliance into it as well.,,

Large Print Items - For people who are sight deficient look for items that come in large print (books, cookbooks, newspapers and magazines) plus special items that come in Braille like money markers, wristwatches and labelers.,,

Games – If they like playing cards get a card shuffler. There are also decks of playing cards with large numbers plus card holders. Jumbo Dominos are also available with big dots. If they like to read get a bookholder which props books up so you don't have to hold them open. This makes reading easy and enjoyable for those with arthritic or crippled hands. Also look for books on tape to buy or rent.,

Amplified Phones – Those with hearing loss will really benefit from a phone that increases the volume of the caller. This will help relieve frustration on both ends of the phone line.,,
Microphones – Lightweight microphones that can be attached to a necklace amplify the voice of someone who has a problem projecting their voice. They are lightweight and easily put on and taken off.,

Illuminated Folding Canes– Light-up canes 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. Also illuminated strips on a walker helps remind them at night to use the walker when drowsy instead of venturing to the bathroom without needed assistance.,

Bird Feeders – Many stick right on the window. This type of constant companionship if fun and as well as nurturing. Also Wind Chimes and Colorful Crib Mobiles can keep people company too.,,

Specialty Garden Tools – Ergonomically designed handle makes gardening easy for those who have arthritis or other wrist problems.

Head Mounted Flashlight – For those with a walker, a head mounted flashlight could help them in case of a power outage.,

Christmas Decorations – Many elderly people are not able to get out to shop or find a mall scary. Ornaments tend to get broken and lost. Go the next step and bring a tree over complete with decorations and lights.

Don't Buy Green Bananas... a humorous journey through the sometimes puzzling world of aging by Barbara Hance – a fun and informative book of short stories and helpful hints for caregivers and families alike. Available at and at

Things to make:
Memory Kits - Grandchildren will enjoy putting these together...simply have them gather reminders (photos, trinkets etc...) which relate to special times your children have had with their grandparents. Once these are collected, they can be put in a special gift box that can be taken out and shared throughout the year.

Home Videos – Make a special video just made for your love one. Each person can talk for a few minutes recalling what they love about that person, and retell some special memories. Local video or photo stores will also transform your old family photos to video or DVD format. They can even add old show tunes as background music.

Family Jigsaw Puzzle
– If your loved one has the capability of putting one together, you can easily get a jigsaw puzzle made from a family picture at your local photo store. Get the grandchildren to help put it together for a special holiday afternoon.,

Bulletin Board – Make a bulletin board with all the childrens photos on it, perhaps a report card or special letter.

Stocking Stuffers – Plug in scent diffusers with home cooking smells like cinnamon or apple pie or coffee. Non-skid socks. Glow tape that illuminates switches, stairs, door frames. Easy Grip scissors. Digital Memo Recorders.

Gift Baskets – Specialty Baskets are easy and fun to make. You can make a spa basket with lots of nice smelly soaps, lotions and sachets, maybe even a gift certificate for a manicure. A movie night basket is fun too with some old movies at you know they would love. Add a microwave bag of popcorn and some cocoa and marshmallows.

Your Personal Company – Most of all, give your loved ones the gift of your company. Make a special night to go and see the Christmas lights in the area. Many elderly people feel especially alone during the holidays. Go out of your way to include them in your activities and show them that you love them. It will warm their hearts – and yours.

Barbara Hance is a resident of Avon, CT. Barbara specializes in estates, trusts, conservatorships and the handling of personal and financial affairs of her aging clientele. Her duties are sometimes so diverse, she frequently refers to herself as a “rent-a-daughter.” Her book, "Don't Buy Green Bananas..." is available through her website or through

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