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Gifts for challenged people

 
steward & bricolagier
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This idea started when my hands were bad the other day, I couldn't get a necklace on, the clasp was too tiny. I bought a bag of lobster claw clasps, and am replacing out the clasps on my necklaces. I will probably change my aunt's jewelry too, if she wants me to.
Ebay: Lobster claw clasps

That made me think: what are gifts you can give someone who is challenged in any way that might help them? I'm not thinking books or information, that's a whole other thought, or huge things, just small things that would make their lives easier. A lot of older women (like your mom?) might want their jewelry easier to put on.

When my health was at it's worst, the bad part was not only that physical stuff overwhelmed me, it's that I was so isolated I had no one I could call for help. So I did it myself, or it didn't get done. Offering to DO things, not buy things, is possibly more useful, depending on the person.

I'm thinking randomly here, mostly what would help me, my mom or people I know.... Anything iffy, ASK. Do not assume you know what they need! Small surprises are great, but don't do things that make things worse. Don't show up at their door "I've come to take you shopping!" I don't bounce out the door easily some days, doubt I'm the only one. Treat them as adults, with respect, and do what THEY want and consider useful.


*Make a coupon book good for things like "take down your drapes and clean them" "move all the furniture and clean under it" "clean under the sink" "2 hours of garage or shed sorting with you" (Do NOT sort their stuff without them there, that is SO dehumanizing "I threw away all that crap..." it hurts. And listen to their stories about why they have it. And if you are minimalist, that doesn't mean try to make them be minimal too, not all of us want to be, I don't care what the logic is, my junk matters to me.) "dinner delivered!" or "pick you up, dinner at our place, take you home" "pick up your meds"

*Grab bars installed anywhere someone wants them, I have them by the tub and toilet, by all small steps, my last house had them by my bed.

*Build new porch steps that aren't so steep, or a ramp. My neighbor AND her friend BOTH fell on hers the other day, they both are recovering from broken bones, and did NOT need that!

*Paint the ramp they have so it's not so ... industrial medical looking. Seeing ramps like that make you cringe every day, I'm CRIPPLED!! A pretty paint job and/or flowers might soften the blow.

*Plant tomatoes or greens in a half barrel so they can be reached.

*Take their pet to the vet.

*Ask if they'd like new pans or dishes bought, that are lighter weight, or easier to clean.

*Offer to rearrange the kitchen cabinet contents so the things needed are easy to reach.

*An outing they choose.

*Social time of their choice.

*Make icky phone calls for them (I have been staring at my phone all morning, bad day, and I have complex calls I need to make. It's overwhelming.)

*Subscriptions they like. One of my sisters keeps Birds and Blooms coming here, it's mindless fun, pretty birds!

*A bird ID book, binoculars, and bird feeders.


What are good gifts that others might consider giving to people they care about?




 
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Magnetic clasps are even easier than lobster claws.

For Christmas I've got my parents thermal packable sitting mats so they can sit on cold or damp benches when they need a rest.
 
pollinator
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Lever door knobs make it way easier to open doors.


magnetic zippers you can do with one hand easily



Virtually every senior in Japan has one of these super walkers


They have a seat to take a break anytime, and a bag to put your shopping and whatever, and breaks.
A similar one on amazon https://www.amazon.com/New-Walking-Stecky-navy-japan/dp/B000B3ZGEQ
 
Mother Tree
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Pearl Sutton wrote:Offering to DO things, not buy things, is possibly more useful, depending on the person.



I have a friend in his seventies who lives in a RV, travelling around Europe wherever the fancy takes him.  He's super intelligent and independent, but his diabetes is starting to effect the feeling in his feet, and he's getting a bit stiff and doesn't bend as easily as he used to, and he's missing his right arm.  I asked him a couple of years ago if there was anything that he needed help with and he rather stubbornly told me that he manages pretty well everything, except that chainsaw juggling is a bit tricky these days without the right arm.  I equally stubbornly told him that I was thinking of cutting his toe-nails for him whenever he visited.  He very reluctantly agreed that struggling to reach his toenails and attempting to cut them with his left hand when he couldn't actually feel what he was doing was in fact a bit of a problem.  These days, whenever he visits he casually pops in and sits in an appropriate chair and I attempt to equally casually keep chatting whilst grabbing a stool and the nail scissors and give him a quick pedicure.

Five minutes work whilst chatting, a few times a year, keeps his feet in order and allows me to spot any incipient problems and nip them in the bud. And is probably a whole lot more useful than any physical gift.
 
pollinator
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I bought my mom a heating pad that's something like five feet long and three feet wide (not out of any brilliance, but we were traveling and she hurt her back, and the drugstore across the street had it).  She loves it and it lives on her bed, where she can lie on it or wrap it around herself.  I also bought her smaller heating pads for around the house.  (Mom, you've had a bad back my whole life.  You're only discovering heating pads at 80?)

Moms with newborns are struggling too, and my mom told me the best shower present she got was several months of a cloth diaper pickup/delivery service.  Environmentally friendly, and she wasn't stuck dealing with loads and loads of laundry.  Expensive but a lifesaver.
 
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An old lady here had a heavy meral door where she keeps chickens.
The foor was broken and she had to move that heavy door to close the chickens.
She asked her neighbours to fix it but nobody did until i came from the city to the village and she asked me.
I took the door at my home and i weld it them put it in place .
It amazed me that such old lady because nobody had helped her ,she tryed to weld the door by herself with an improvised stick welding machine and the cables of that welding machine were from thick and solid aluminum,not flexible.

She gave me a bag of eggs from her chickens.
 
pollinator
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Awesome idea for a thread, Pearl.

My mom's version of Burra's toenail-clipping is plucking my grandmother's stray facial hairs. She's one of those ladies who never wants a hair out of place when "in town" (where she now lives), and she can't see/coordinate her hands well enough to do it herself. So every time mom visits, she says "Go sit on that chair, Mom, and let me poke at you". And grandma walks over to her chair in the light, and holds her chin up to get hairs plucked. I think it's adorable, especially when mom forgets, and grandma deliberately poses in the chin plucking chair :P. But often when we are visiting, we are going out for lunch or to a family event, and it makes grandma feel much more confident.

This year, I'm buying presents for my dad kind of like this - he has larger-than average feet, and trouble bending. I bought him a pair of slip-on slippers (at his request), and a four pack of large diabetic socks. He has trouble finding stuff in local stores, and I'm in the city/have the internet at my finger tips, so finding that sort of thing is easy.

Another awesome gift from the last few years - heated mattress pads. For people with arthritis and/or cold drafty houses, they are absolutely heavenly.

And yes - offers (not impositions), to do things are very good ideas. I love the idea of a coupon book!
 
pollinator
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Amy Arnett wrote:
Lever door knobs make it way easier to open doors.





These are also easier for pets to open. Which can be good or bad, depending on the pet.

A neighbor down the road had to change their doorknobs because their cat figured out how to pull the lever.

Just something to keep in mind :)
 
Burra Maluca
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:
These are also easier for pets to open. Which can be good or bad, depending on the pet.

A neighbor down the road had to change their doorknobs because their cat figured out how to pull the lever.



My other half used to have a cat that could open them.  They solved the issue by re-installing the door handle upside-down.

 
master steward
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I asked our daughter to get her Dad a voice recorder for Christmas.  Something that he can put in his shirt pocket and make a "memo" when he thinks of something that needs to get done or something he is out of.

I am getting a new computer mouse unless she forgets.
 
gardener
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Not so good at finish work,  but when there is no-one else,  I can patch a hole and slap on paint.
Electrical,plumbing, rough carpentry, audio video set up,  Ikea assembly, cleaning.
These are the only things I can do for my folks.
I don't have money,  but I can do things with my hands.
It's a blessing to me to be able to do something for others, makes me feel worthwhile.

I will be taking the bedroom and bathroom doors off  at my aunties house on Friday .
She is recovering from a stroke,  and wants to go home,  but the doorways plus doors are too narrow for a wheel chair .
She probably should  not be going home,  but damned if we won't help her try.

It's much harder when there is nothing to do but be there.
I struggle with that.


 
pollinator
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This day clock has been super helpful for my dad with Alzheimer's.  Handy for me* too!



https://americanlifetime.com/?gclid=CjwKCAiAluLvBRASEiwAAbX3GZriK0kaKwcXCrHfgu1bc09hpGHIzGitFzwYO44mAgDcmHDACiXgNRoC8jgQAvD_BwE

*who will probably get Alzheimer's >:(
 
Tyler Ludens
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For those with less money to throw around, a desk calendar is a very helpful thing for folks who have trouble keeping track of what's going on.  We have one for my dad which tells him what will happen each day of the coming week.  Unfortunately he's getting to the point of not remembering to look at the calendar when he's confused about what might happen.

Something like this with the side area for notes is good:

 
gardener
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I'm going to mention 3 things we did for my in-laws.
1. Grampie was getting stiff, so we bought an extra wide rear-view mirror that clipped over his existing car mirror.
2. Grammie was getting hard of hearing, so we bought a "strobe-light" phone ringer so she could "see" the phone ring. That worked until she was too deaf to actually use the phone.
3. Their kitchen had very poor lighting, so we bought a fixture and hubby installed it over their kitchen sink. It was a 3 hour job and it made a huge difference.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Learning more about the magnetic zippers, thank you Ms Jay Angler!  Improving Our Lives — One Zipper at a Time  The tech is cool, and makes sense.

from that article wrote:  From the very young to the very old, to skiers with thick gloves on, to parents struggling with squirmy kids, many people find zipping up a challenge.


They sell the zippers, Magneticzipper.com and offer a zipper replacement service if you don't sew and don't have anyone you can pay to sew for you. For what it's worth, most people who can sew can replace a zipper quickly, it's not difficult. The zippers are on sale right now, $7.00 each for jacket length, $8.00 each when not on sale, MagZip
That price, for reference, is comparable to normal zipper prices at fabric stores Coats & Clark 26 inch parka zipper at Joanns for $6.99.

COOL IDEA!! I'm so getting a pile of zippers!!
 
Jay Angler
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Pearl Sutton wrote:

For what it's worth, most people who can sew can replace a zipper quickly, it's not difficult.

Actually Pearl, sewers seem almost as rare as hen's teeth in my neck of the woods. Anyone who can sew and enjoys it could easily keep a raft of friends happy by helping with basic sewing projects. I've usually got a line-up!
 
pollinator
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Anne Miller wrote:
I am getting a new computer mouse unless she forgets.



And a spare for when that one wears out.  Younger people don't use them and I'm guessing they'll no longer be stocked soon.  

I had to replace mine recently and found only one model.  Of course, I'm speaking as a bricks & mortar shopper.  The only thing I buy online is books.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Ruth Meyers wrote:

Anne Miller wrote:
I am getting a new computer mouse unless she forgets.



And a spare for when that one wears out.  Younger people don't use them and I'm guessing they'll no longer be stocked soon.  

I had to replace mine recently and found only one model.  Of course, I'm speaking as a bricks & mortar shopper.  The only thing I buy online is books.



Especially if you use wired mice, not wireless. Those are hard to find in my neck of the woods.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Expanding on the lights and visibility for older folks thoughts:
I'm gonna use your grandma as an example, and am thinking about several old ladies I know as I write this, change details as needed for your own situation. I'm also thinking about the modifications I made to the rental we are in for my mom.

Eyes dim as you get older, and older houses do not have a lot of fixtures to start with. Cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration make it even worse. Walk into your grandma's house with dark sunglasses on, and look at the house. That's quite probably what she is seeing. What can be changed here?

Some places to check: porches, around the doors, the kitchen, the bathrooms, hallways, steps, wherever meds are kept, anyplace that they spend a lot of time (like their favorite chair.)

Steps need to be visible. The rental we are in has wood steps, I put strips of bright yellowish green duct tape on the edge of each step. It will come off easily when we move out, and although those steps are horrible and we go up and down them many times a day, neither of us has fallen. They sell systems to do this, but bright duct tape is pretty effective.

Ideal would be to make the sun come in more. It's difficult if you don't move well to open and close blinds or drapes though. And windows always need washing, and probably vegetation needs trimming back. Consider that, if it can be done. Don't install anything that has to be dealt with several times a day, like blinds etc, or that takes maintenance, unless YOU are willing to do it for them from now on. See if anything can be changed there though.

Dark walls don't bounce much light around, we are in a rental I'm am NOT going to repaint. I DID thumbtack neatly done white sheets to the walls in mom's room (to cover blood red walls, that were painted badly, and need either another 2 coats of blood red to look at least competently painted, or several serious layers of Killz to eliminate that mess.) It lightened the room up quite a bit, I then put some purple striped Mexican blankets diagonally over it for decor, anything like pictures etc work well, just something to hide the sheets. That exact idea might not work for you, it is just what worked for us in a rental to lighten up dark (and horrible) walls. The idea is to look and see if dark walls can be lightened with paint or something else. Big pictures would work too, or a bunch of smaller ones, especially if they are behind glass, so the light reflects.

LED lights are not the best for the environment, but they are cheap to run, and I bet part of the reason the bulbs in grandma's house are low wattage is to avoid high electric bills. LEDs (and most other bulbs) come in different color ranges

I classify them (and label each bulb with sharpie) by yellow based (the left side of that scale) blue based (the middle of that scale) or daylight (right end of the scale.) The left end lights are softer, more friendly looking, but if you are having issues with sight, the daylight spectrum bulbs are fantastic. They light an area incredibly well. The mid section, blue based ones, are kind of in between, I use those for what most people would use the softer toned bulbs for, and daylights every where else. (Incidentally, florescent bulbs come in daylight too. A 4 ft light fixture in a kitchen or basement gets a serious personality change by putting daylight spectrum bulbs in it!) Swapping out normal bulbs for daylight spectrum bulbs will make an immense difference. (I use LED's in the rental so I don't have heat issues in summer, in our home we are putting in switch marked winter and summer fixtures, that will have LED for summer, and incandescent or halogen for winter, to add heat, but that's not practical for most people. In winter we'll mostly use lights with a red switch, in summer you mostly use lights with a blue switch.) Incidentally, I have been running LEDs since they became affordable, about 2010, and have yet to have to throw one away.

Properly (and safely!) hard wiring light fixtures though walls and ceilings is not a job that can be done casually. What can be done casually is add small fixtures that have cords. Look for "under cabinet lighting" you can get them in LED or florescent (I'm unsure about incandescent) with batteries, plugs, or hard wired. Looking at the actual lighting needs of the person and house, and figuring out where light needs to be and what's available for power before going fixture shopping is wise. They can be put a lot of neat places, like dark hallways, or closets also. A trick I use for switched hall lights when I don't want to mess with the fixture is the things that screw into a bulb socket that makes a plug outlet, then run plug wired lights off of it, so they work off the switch. They look like this and are at most hardware stores.


Another trick I use for lighting is timers that turn lights on automatically. We use all the natural window lighting we can, but I have good bright lights on timers, set to come on 1/2 hour before dark, and stay on till the time we go to bed. (Don't forget to adjust them as the season changes!) Especially in winter, they are wonderful. We don't tend to notice it's getting dark and get up to turn on a light until its IS dark, then you are looking for light switches in bad visibility, and that's when falls happen. A cat or dog runs under your feet when you don't see them, and it can be very bad. It's also great to go to bed with good lighting, and know it'll shut itself off. Turning off the lights as you go to bed is a dark trip hazard. Hall lights on timers might be excellent.

Check for trip hazards in general. Black Gorilla tape is my favorite for that, I tape everything down. Any adhesive on floors etc you need off removes easily with goo gone or orange oil or orange degreaser. Duct tape is less adhesive, and peels up on the edges much faster. If you put any tape down in an older person's house, check it every few months for peeling, Gorilla black won't need replacing for several years, but I'd check it anyway. What can be moved for trip hazard mitigation? What can be marked? What can be taped down? What can be eliminated? Look around, in your dark glasses. and see what is a potential problem.

It's hard sometimes when you are young to realize that as most people's eyes age, they don't pick up light as easily, the dark glasses in the house trick is REALLY useful for figuring out what might need better lighting, as well as asking a lot of questions. This isn't the kind of project you do as a surprise for someone, it's one you do as team project, them telling you what bugs them, as well as you asking "what about here?" and then you figuring out how to change it. If you want to do it as a gift, I'd suggest the gift they open is a box of daylight LED's, and a certificate promising to change the lighting in the house. I have yet to see one set of daylight bulbs not convince people how much difference it makes. Be sure to mention they are cheaper to run!

And one last random thought: Need extra money? Business opportunity here! Get other people to pay you to do this for their relatives. Someone's child in another state might pay well to know it's been done.
 
Jay Angler
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I'd like to add one more thing to Pearl's excellent post on lighting:

Light fixtures need to be cleaned - really, they do! Since I didn't want my elderly father-in-law falling from a step-stool, I had to discretely leave him reading the paper and start taking down removable bits and washing and replacing, or washing in place ones that didn't come apart. I usually ended up being "caught in the act", but a firm, "Grampie, I like you the shape you are - not with a broken hip. I'm only doing lights you can't easily reach," was enough to get acceptance - of course it embarrassed hubby as really *he* should have noticed and done something, but that's his problem! Clean fixtures give much better light.
 
Pearl Sutton
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An addendum to Jay's addendum to my lights post...
When you clean a light, make sure you clean the reflector behind the bulb too, it will increase the output of the light immense amounts. They are usually white or silver, if they aren't looking very reflective, hit them with white or silver paint, tinfoil (attached very well!) or this kind of tape, which is basically a tinfoil with very good adhesive on it. I buy it at Lowe's Hardware, it's with the metal duct work.


And if the cover on the light doesn't clean up well, consider replacing it, Habitat for Humanity's Restores can match a LOT of light fixture covers.
 
pollinator
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Pearl Sutton wrote:Expanding on the lights and visibility for older folks thoughts



Thanks for that excellent and comprehensive post. I will save a copy of it on my computer to have for later reference.
It has some great ideas to make over the dimly-lit house of my parents. In fact, they did have some falls in the past.

It would make a great gift. I will talk that through with my husband - he is the one of us doing plumbing and electricity.

The only thing my mother does know to do is change a bulb, but she is just replacing bad bulbs with new bad bulbs...

I wish my brothers who live with them would have an eye on those things, but they have no practical knowledge of such things and are too inert to think about changes.
 
Anne Miller
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Ruth Meyers wrote:

Anne Miller wrote:
I am getting a new computer mouse unless she forgets.



And a spare for when that one wears out.  Younger people don't use them and I'm guessing they'll no longer be stocked soon.  

I had to replace mine recently and found only one model.  Of course, I'm speaking as a bricks & mortar shopper.  The only thing I buy online is books.



Ruth and Pearl, thanks for the advice.

We had Christmas this weekend ... and the daughter forgot so I am still using "MouseKeys".

I found one to buy like the one I am using.  I don't know how to buy one except to buy what I have.

Now I am so used to MouseKeys, I will have to learn all over again except for the number keys as my hand goes to those keys automatically.  Then I have to remember why they don't work.
 
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