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Senior Health Tip #13:  For enhanced quality of life, choose holiday presents for older loved ones

At this time of year there is no end to lists that detail the best gifts for mom, dad, grandparents, best friends and, yes, even the family pet. But when it comes to picking the perfect presents for older loved ones, whether extravagant or utilitarian, what truly makes the best gifts for seniors are those that enable them to maintain a great quality of life—being able to stay engaged in things they love to do and live as independently as possible. The best holiday gifts for seniors have benefits in 5 distinct areas: those that allow them to stay active, stay sharp, stay safe, stay interested and stay vital. Here’s why each of those aspects is important.

1. Think Fitness First: Gifts For Staying Active
Among the lifestyle behaviors that have only negative effects, being sedentary is near the top of the list. Exercise maintains muscle, and muscle enables the body to maintain a level of fitness that helps you resist illness, stay independent and prevent falls. While there are octogenarian marathoners, it’s not necessary to do extreme sports or work out until you ache. Exercise can and should be fun and tailored to each individual’s level. Consider exercise video games and a session with a physical therapist as gifts.

2. Maintain The Brain: Gifts For Staying Sharp
Ongoing studies are researching exactly how to keep the brain sharp and delay or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Exercising the mind can be as high-tech as video games and brain training programs and as low-tech as playing Scrabble and doing crossword puzzles every day. Many of these activities have benefits that range from improving memory to visual acuity; they’re also just plain fun and keep people engaged. Specific brain fitness software involves interactive game-like training programs that challenge the mind and attempt to boost memory as well as analytical thinking.

3. Get Smart About Safety: Gifts For Staying Safe
For many seniors, high-tech developments in telecare are allowing those who need care and attention to age in place—stay in their homes but under a watchful eye through electronic monitoring and communication devices via the computer, video cameras, the internet, land or wireless telephone signals. Advances in tracking devices for wanderers, online recordkeeping and medical reminder systems are other high-tech ways of keeping seniors safe.

4. See Clearly: Gifts For Staying Interested
Normal vision changes occur as we age. Even natural changes unrelated to conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration can make reading close-up difficult, but the ability to read in particular is an important part of maintaining quality of life. So is being able to do other “hand held” activities like knitting and writing. Tools and gadgets that make it easier to stay interested in these activities are among the best holiday gifts for seniors.

5. Emphasize Everyday Ease: Gifts For Staying Vital and Connected
Independence comes in many forms, but doctors often judge it by the ability to carry out daily living activities, simply taking care of oneself and one’s needs—getting dressed, eating properly, moving about with relative ease. Aids and gadgets that facilitate these everyday actions make a big difference in quality of life and the ability to age at home. Our Founder’s Choice, the Pathlighter lighted walking cane, solves two issues in one: mobility and vision enhancement.

To learn about more specific gift choices, read The 5 Best Holiday Gift Ideas For Seniors

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