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Tips for caregivers: holiday shopping

When you're considering gifts for your older loved ones for the holidays, be creative in your choices. Many seniors have accumulated years' worth of "stuff" so you don't want to add to the clutter. With a little imagination, you can come up with the perfect gift. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Create a fun and useful gift basket. Fill a colorful gift basket with useful items, that might not make the perfect gifts on their own. If your loved one is an avid reader, include a large magnifying glass and a book light or a lighted sheet magnifier. Include pill organizers that can be color-coded for morning and evening pills. Add grocery and pharmacy gift cards. Other items could be an easy-to-use pill cutter, non-skid socks for wearing around the house, lotions, a jar opener, and compression socks, which are now available in a variety of colors and patterns.

  2. Sign up a class together. Local arts organizations offer a host of course options, such as painting, drawing or ceramics. Register yourself and your loved one to take a class together. You'll both have fun discovering new talents, and your loved one will benefit from staying active and engaged.

  3. Make a Photo Memory Book. Photos are wonderful to share, but there's only so much wall and surface space for framed pictures, and digital photos are often accumulated and forgotten. A great way to make the photos-and the memories they conjure up-easily accessible is to create a photo memory book. Does your loved one have catch phrases they use often? Use those phrases as inspiration and find photos to illustrate them. Or find inspiration in a vacation spot that the family returned to frequently-compile photos taken at the spot over the years and add special memories from each trip. Online services allow you to create customized hardcover books, or you can create a book using scrapbook supplies from your local craft store.

  4. A Home Safety CheckUp. Offer your "handyman" (or woman!) services to help make your loved one's home safe for aging in place. Install appropriate lighting in stairways and hallways. Add grab bars to the tub and shower. Check appliances for frayed wires. Check for working flashlights. Make sure smoke detectors are installed and are operating properly. Rearrange furniture and lamps to prevent tripping hazards, and make sure lamp switches are within easy reach. Install nightlights to make navigating to the bathroom or kitchen safe at night. Check carpeting for frays and tears (which should be repaired, or the entire carpet should be removed, depending on the damage). Remove all throw rugs, which pose a falls risk.

    A version of this article appeared in the Private Health News.