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Gifts for challenged people

 
pollinator
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As my parents started to age beyond their physical abilities, I gave them "Good For" cards...Basically, 3x5 index cards that they could write whatever they needed/wanted done...Example, "Good For" taking dog to the vet, painting a room, car needs detailed, cleaning the gutters etc...Anything that I was unable to do for whatever reason, we hired it done... They were grateful and didn't hesitate to fill out lots of cards;  
 
master steward
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On lower cost items, this one has been around a long time, but is still very helpful, when you find good quality ones. My mom(5ft tall) was always asking my step dad (6'2" tall) to get things from the higher shelves for her. But, when he wasn't around, then later had another heart attack, followed by a stroke, he couldn't always help her, so she started using a step stool. Then her knee gave out, and she kept falling. I didn't want her on that step stool, anymore, so I got her one of those long reach grabber things. That was probably 10yrs ago, but she still uses it, all the time. They're great for anyone stuck in a wheel chair, or in bed, too.  I've often dropped stuff, while in bed, and as I picked out up, grumbled to myself that 'at least I *can* get up, to get it. They make folding ones now, too, so they can be tucked into a pocket on the side of a walker or wheelchair, and would be particularly useful, for someone needing those battery operated cars, at the store.

And, even less expensive, if you sew, those pockets that attach to walkers, or wheelchairs can make all the difference in the world, for folks. I have a friend, almost a year younger than me who just spent his 58th birthday trapped in a wheelchair in a nursing home, after several strokes. He was a mechanic and truck driver - and a workaholic - and will be there for the rest of his life. He is now cut off from all his friends, because his daughter moved him hours away from his lifelong home, and he's obviously facing some serious depression. If I could, I'd get him a tablet and an easel for it, so he can communicate with those friends on social media, from his bed or wheelchair.
 
pollinator
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Carla Burke wrote: one of those long reach grabber things.
... They're great for anyone sick in a wheel chair, or in bed, too.  



Carla, you beat me to it!  I was going to suggest that very thing.  I have multiples, plus gave my friend one for Christmas last year, told her it was so handy, keep it even though you think you won't use it.

And wouldn't you know it, she dropped a sock between the washing machine and the wall shortly thereafter...and used the picker-upper thingie (that's what I call it) to grab it.  I've done the same with dropping keys behind the washing machine, or other small objects somewhere.

I've bought the last two from thrift stores.

You can reach up higher to grab things (although be very careful with something like a can or glass; the weight limit is pretty light).  Or under a bed.  GREAT for houses full of too much stuff!  haha

Another idea I had was a jar lid opener.  My neighbor gave me one after I had to ask him to open a jar for me.  It's just a thin sheet of rubbery something.  (In fact, you could likely make one by cutting open a large inner tube or something like that...craft foam, maybe?)

I recently made a window tool modeled after something my grandfather and father made.  We have jalosies, so to open/close them, especially those up high, it's just a simple long stick, with a large enough hole near one end.

You slip that hole over the handle of the jalosie, then pull it towards you and up/down, then back in, to open/close the jalosie.  Then slip the stick off, and hang it on the wall, or rest it somewhere near the windows you use it for.

A very simple project just about anyone could do.  The one I made used the long flat chair leg from something I found on the side of the road.  Now that I think about it, probably having the end with the hole flat would work better than round...but if you had a branch or something round, you could always just whittle away on two sides, just to create the flat surface for the hole; round might be easier to grab, so leave the rest of it round.

If they have fruit trees, maybe a fruit picking stick...possibly something you make yourself.  I fashioned a papaya picker out of "junk" since I couldn't find anything commercially available that worked well.

Finally, if you ask the person what they have trouble doing, that will give you a problem to solve.  Perhaps you can brainstorm ideas for a solution that would work, whether it's something to make, do, buy, create, or just change how the person is doing it, in a way that works better for them.

I think the best gifts are those that bring a solution to someone's need, want, or curiosity.

And if you end up making something, that can be fun for both of you!  I think humans love to create, especially with our hands...maybe one reason society is falling apart these days--we've outsourced everything, buy everything, and focus on technology skills, instead of hands-on/real life skills and "making do," or "jerry-rigging" stuff...?
 
master steward
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Hi Scott,

Thanks for the post. I recently discovered a pair on a shelf in my home.  I had no idea what they were for. They are relatively new and must have come with something else we purchased.
 
John F Dean
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Hi John,

Neat idea. The cards, as a gift, take the pressure off of them that they are asking for a favor.
 
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Wow, this is a great subject to post!  

Lately, I find getting my boots off is more annoying, mainly when I wear my thick wool socks.  So I am thinking something like this would be an easy woodworking gift project - https://a.co/d/eVtNYiV

Sadly, I do now want that day of the week clock!

Items to improve sleep make great gifts for everyone (except infants, of course!).  Hull filled items can reduce neck, shoulder and back pain so if you know anyone, a lavender millet hull pillow could be the perfect gift.  

That cutting board is beautiful, makes me thing of adding those rubber furniture feet to our larger cutting boards may help my husband who has back issues.

Happy Holidays!  
 
steward & bricolagier
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A step stool with GOOD WIDE steps and a rail!
I have these around,  I love them!
Werner Step Right Stool


EDITED TO ADD: These are not for people who wouldn't be safe on them. They are for people who are ok enough that it would help. An example is there is china high in a cabinet because it doesn't get used much. It might be reachable, but still, having heavy stuff at arms length up high is difficult for muscles. Having a step stool that makes it so you can get it without having it at extended arm reach makes it so the task can be done.

I like the grab rail on it not for climbing up so much as for giving me a balance point when I have the item I'm moving trying to over balance me. I wish they had a top like a ladder you could set things on.

Something I tell people is there is no solid line for when someone needs a tool to help them do things. It's a spectrum, and only at the far end are the people who can't function at all. Correctly chosen tools make it so we can all do as much as we can.


~~~~~~
Also, consider taking people on a grocery shopping trip, and you not only buy the food, you haul it all in and put it all away! I always tell the grocery store people "no, I don't need help out to the car, that's easy, it's level and paved and my food is in the cart, unloading at the house is where I need help!!"

 
Carla Burke
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Scott Stiller wrote:This is a great idea for a thread!
For me, boot hooks are a life saver. I have the worst time bending at the waste or squatting. For this reason I gave up boots that tie. The ones I bought are great but getting them on was difficult. I’m lucky that my wife noticed and bought me some little helpers. I didn’t even know they were a thing.



Also, along these lines, for those who struggle bending (for whatever reason), are long-reach shoe-horns, and I've even seen a contraption, to help put on socks. I don't see why this couldn't be duplicated with items on hand! https://www.rehab-store.com/p-sock-aid.html?msclkid=dacbd0c478bc1a667652b364e4ac0b94
 
master steward
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Pearl Sutton wrote:A step stool with GOOD WIDE steps and a rail!
I have these around,  I love them!

It wouldn't store as nicely, but I can picture that step stool with a modified bike basket attached to it. A cloth bag strapped to it wouldn't be quite so good unless it was made with a semi-rigid ring at the opening, but it still wouldn't be so good if you were lowering down a stack of china, as opposed to just a single item.

If you want something from a top shelf, consider looking at what's on the bottom shelf of the same cabinet with an eye to "can I lift these down onto the counter-top before climbing. Then the items I'm reaching for can be moved to the bottom shelf long enough for me to climb down. Unfortunately, the place I tried to do that, other people cluttered up with stuff that's harder to move. I'd actually put some things on a tea tray, so I could just lift the whole tray out, then move the china from up-high to that spot. Now I've just given up on the china... sigh... I was the only one in the house that appreciated it.
 
pioneer
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This won't fall under the "gifts" category, but as much of the conversation has been about our beloved elderly, let me add this tidbit.

The preface of this is that I have worked a 1/4 century for disabled and elderly in their homes, doing for them what they can't do for themselves.

I have had several Alzheimer's/dementia clients in varying stages of the disease and one in particular stands out. She robbed me of my heart early on and chose me to be her protector and general overseer of all things Ella! We got her a programmable large button telephone, and I programmed it so with only a couple buttons she could reach me, but she was already too far gone to operate it this way. She could only answer incoming calls. Fortunately there is a program for this part of our population that facilitates acquiring the necessary things needed, and her worker got a service installed that allowed her to push the button on her necklace to speak to someone to help her.

As her deterioration became ever more obvious, she ended up pushing that button because she was lonely, or thought she'd been left alone too long (one of us 3 women covering her scheduled time had often just left within the last 20 minutes. Too be clear, by this time the client was bedbound from too many falls and broken hips, legs... I installed a baby monitor with 2 way communication, and when I was home (not at another client or out doing my own errands), and could be alerted to any needs fast. I still got calls from the service, notifying me that 911 had been called for her, typically after most folks were sleeping.

Now for the real reason I began this response. To help my Ella know what time of year it was, I spent a few dollars on cheapo holiday decorations to put on the walls and her lamp on the table beside her. New Years, Valentines, St. Patrick's, spring, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Sometimes she would be in a nursing facility because of another fall, and broken bone, and I'd just take those decorations to her room! I really did go above and beyond for this one client, breaking rules the company had about doing more than we were contracted for. But she was a special case, and taking care of her saw me move into the same mobile home park where she lived, which allowed me to employ the baby monitor!

Every case worker she had for various needs had their compliments for my dedication. And the saddest thing is that my level of dedication and loyalty isn't always appreciated by the clients. They often have none of their own, firing your rear at the slightest mistake or change of their mood!

I've long been a proponent of creating personalized coupon books. Sometimes sussing out the right kinds of services/help is the toughest part.  

Fans and tv's also tend to need a deep clean periodically.

 
pollinator
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Frozen, home-cooked meals.
It doesn't need to be fancy, although that can be nice, but a freezer full of tasty, healthy, meals to reheat and eat can be a great gift. For someone living alone, many recipes are just too large, time consuming, or physically taxing to prepare, and then pack into the freezer (or eat until it's gone!).
Stews, soups, lasagna, turkey dinners (complete: stuffing potatoes, squash, cranberry relish, etc...); all of these can be made easily by reasonably able-bodied cooks with moderate skills. A lot of the time it doesn't need to be expensive either!
There are some tips that you can research, about cooking specifically for freezing, especially so that vegetables keep their texture.

When my mother had back issues, and was directed to only lift 5 pounds, lots of things were no longer possible, smaller containers became necessary (a bit of a $ tax on the infirm), roasting a 16 pound turkey required help (or cheating).
Standing for long periods at a sink doing preparation, or at a stove, and lifting a HOT tray of lasagna or a roasting pan; are all things the strong and able-bodied of us take for granted.

We did this for both our mothers, and my aunt as well. We printed up a "menu" of what they were gifted, so they could know what was waiting for them in their freezers.
 
steward
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One of my favorite things that I've purchased, I first got for my grandma. It's a grabber tool:

This is the one I bought


It looked so cool, that I bought one for myself, as well. I've had it for 4.5 years, and it's a life saver! Sure, I can get up and down and don't usually "need" a grabber, but it makes cleaning up toys and other stuff so much easier! It turns cleaning from a terrible, overwhelming chore, to something that's a lot more manageable. It's also a lot faster to clean up stuff when you don't have to spend time bending for every item. It also comes in handy when we go for walks and pick up trash on our road.

We liked ours so much that we bought two, so now both my husband and I can clean with them at the same time, or if a kid declares, "I want to use the grabber," I don't have to relinquish mine.

I can attest to it actually picking up pennies (unless your kids, say, drag the tips of it through the gravel outside one day...then it doesn't pick up such tiny things), and it does also pick up heavier things, too.

I also sometimes use it sort of a cane when I hurt my ankle. I can lean on it a bit, and still hobble around an clean. I'm sure it's not meant to hold weight like that, but it hasn't broken yet (I'm 5'4" and 135 pounds, so someone heavier/taller might not want to try that!).
 
pollinator
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My mom is 91.  It seems she is always wanting something painted.  I hate painting.  Nonetheless,  her house is moving from dark browns, reds and grays (she resides in my son's house) to the pastel greens, blue and beige that she prefers...one holiday at a time.  :)
 
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I love this thread! There are SO MANY things I'd like to do, but due to very limiting health issues, can't. My husband is very helpful with the necessities and I don't want to impose more than he voluntarily offers to assist. I do have a few friends I feel I could ask to help with specific tasks. Take it from me, your offer to help in needful ways means so much to those of us who struggle every day to remain in our home safely. Even if you are one of us, acting on the thoughts of a friend by calling them and letting them know that they are not "out of sight, out of mind" means a great deal and is very encouraging. Thank you all for your willingness to serve.
 
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Completely agreed Alia. It’s tough to be at home watching your friends and family go on without you. Since my untimely retirement I’ve become a great friend with my former boss. I cherish his friendship and will never treat him poorly. That goes for all new friendships I make as well. Having said that, it’s still tough to have lost so many friends just because I was no longer around. I’m still bitter but it’s been a good lesson in how not to treat people. I’ll make sure none of my friends ever have to feel the way I did.
 
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“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.”

This is a TRULY wonderful idea but please, anyone trimming toenails for a diabetic, keep always in your mind that even a tiny little nick can be catastrophic for them. They won’t (potentially) feel it but it will be (almost always) reluctant to heal and they might not be able to take care of it themselves, properly. Because of the higher volume of sugar in their bloodstream it can cause terrible damage.

Sorry, I haven’t quite figured out how to use the quote function.
 
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My mom had arthritis pretty bad in both hands,so she was losing strength in both hands.plus she had cupletone in both thumbs.a button fastener did wonder's at helping her to button her shirts/blouses.then there's the pul over shirts, blouses dresses and pants with zippers.add a shoe lace or what ever to them.my needed a handheld flashlight every once in a while.so I bought one she can pickup and use when needed.plus it's one that'll plug into a Electric outlet for recharging,then unplugged for useage and a easy to use on/off switch..it worked so well for her,I bought a 2nd one for her on account they run down some where between 2 to 5 days.
 
pollinator
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Another fan of the long reach grabbers here. I bought one for mum some years ago and moved all the tins and jars in her kitchen cupboard to a shelf she can reach while she's standing on the floor. The lighter packets were moved to higher shelves. I don't think it has occurred to her to pick things up from the floor with it as well and I think it's too late for her to learn that. She was struggling to put her socks on so I made her a "sock puller" which you can also buy, but mine was a lot cheaper and designed to fit her arm length and foot size. Along with that I gave her a shoehorn we found at our son's house when he moved in. I love the idea of the clock that tells you the day/time of day/time etc and will look out for one as she is beginning to get her days confused.
 
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I bought my mom a heating pad...
we have discovered pet bed warmers. alot of sizes and you can set the temp.
 
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I have a poor lower back, due to 3 different accidents. Back braces only do so much. (They don't do much for me). If their is something for us that aren't old, but already have a bad back, that would be awesome.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Today is Dec 22, need a quick free gift for someone? See if this will work for you! Idea inspired by a conversation I had with a older lady just now. I told her what I had done for mom, and she was excited to ask her kids to do it too.

Cell phones are DIFFICULT for a lot of people. If you are tolerably good with one, or have a kid who is...  Sit down with Grandma or Aunt Mollie, and go through their phone apps. Any of them they do not use, move them to a separate folder and label it something like "Ignore me" "Do not touch" or "Garbage" anything so they know that it's stuff they don't use. My mom has a "Garbage" folder.

And if you are feeling generous, go through their email and unsubscribe them from anything they don't want. That one can take days... I did my aunt's phone a while back, unsubscribed her from probably 200 lists. She has no clue how she got on them.

ANYTHING that takes down the chaos on a smart phone screen will make people VERY HAPPY!!
 
Pearl Sutton
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I just read my mom my last post, and she exploded with ideas for quick gifts you can give NOW and do in the next month.
A card that promises to do (even better if you say "before Feb 1" or a similar date) the kind of things we talk about in this thread:

  • Buy new bright bulbs and put them in your lamps.
  • Install several grab bars where you want them.
  • Buy and install timers for lights.
  • Install white LED Christmas lights on the top of the hallway, by the ceiling, that stay on 24/7 so the hall is always lit.
  • Buy and install the door handles that go sideways and are easy to open.
  • Take their pet to the vet for shots.
  • Do the cell phone cleanup in the post above this one.
  • Help organize clothes and shoes to put anything not daily wear out of the way, or removed
  • Promise X number of hours to do whatever you are told to do. There's always stupid small stuff that is hard to get done.
  • Mark the buttons on remotes, microwave, stove, coffee maker etc so it's easy to see ONLY the ones that are used. Too much labeling is worse
  • Help label items on the back or make a list (with extra copies) for who they are to go to after death.
  • Help label sentimental items with where they came from and their story.
  • A date to go shopping at the grocery store, dollar store, thrift store, (wherever works) and you will pay for X amount of anything they want.
  • Help arrange the kitchen to be useful to them.
  • Repair, replace, reinforce, or install railings everywhere, even on a one or two step area.
  • Label anything that is hard for them to ID, like pills, asst cleaning supplies, or tea flavors.
  • Take them and pay for a haircut, pedicure, manicure, whatever they need or like. Men often need their toenails clipped. Or do it for them, if that works better for them.


  • Mom is still yelling ideas at me, things to get that are quick to buy:
  • A good magnifying glass, with a light if possible, not one that takes a charger that gets lost.
  • Table or floor or clamp lamps with flexible heads so they move where you want them.
  • Good healthy food that they will EAT, my mom got fruit of the month one year and loved it! She's getting a box of organic oranges for Christmas this year.
  • A stand for book/pad/laptop etc that holds it at the right height. (I will check, if I didn't post about what she has in this thread I'll add another post.)
  • A pack of 3x5 cards or something similar, where they can write down things they'd like done, and every time you come to visit, you dig through it and see what you can do that day. (Or anyone who comes to visit!) Not big things, but the little things that always get forgotten.
  • A pack of wooden spring clothespins to clip things that always need clipping around the house.
  • A variety pack of greeting cards to send people, and some blank ones. A book of forever stamps with it.



  • And she is coming up with other thoughts:
  • The over the door clothes hooks things are too high, make one hang lower and is reachable without tiptoes.


  • And she may be making me edit this more today, keep watching this post for edits!
     
    Pearl Sutton
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    Looks like I did not post the laptop stand...

    There are other types, that is what mom has. It can be adjusted to the height she likes, she uses a tiny bungee cord to hold her book pages open, the Ipad sits on it nicely. It's in front of her chair, on a table, so she can read anything sitting up in the chair she likes.
    Worth looking at them.
     
    Alina Green
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    To the person who got heating pads, be careful, because people have gotten serious burns by sleeping with them on, and not feeling pain until they are very burned.  (I think now they come with timers, to prevent that, but I'm not sure...)

    Re: labelling things,
    If you want to write on something that is dark, such as an oven knob, use white correction fluid.
    The one that has a fine tip that you have to press down (not the one with the sponge or brush wand applicator.)

    Shake well, get the fluid flowing on some paper, and quickly make the mark on the item.  You may need to do just a little at a time, because the tip clogs up quickly.  (There's like a spring-loaded BB or something in there; you have to press down, and move the bottle like a pen, and it allows the fluid to flow.)

    I've used this to put a simple line on stove and oven knobs (the writing can get blurry or rubbed off, and it's already really small).
    You don't need to see all those variations on the stove--low, medium, high works fine...or whatever setting they tend to put everything on!  haha

    For ovens you need the degrees.

    But I label things like water bottles with my name, plastic handles, etc.  Because felt markers can fade or come off easily.  This works for longer and for darker things; the contrast with the white ink makes it very easy to see.

    I often mark + and - on the outside of flashlights, because I'm forever searching in hard-to-see places, for the microscopic marks, to figure out how to insert the batteries.

    Or for which way is ON vs. OFF--I get confused with the o and l marks on the paper shredder, for example.

    Or on the ends of cords or plugs, so I know what they are for, or which was is up, etc.

    Looking around, I see another example now on my 3-hole punch:  I have an arrow pointing to the end where I always slide the papers, to align them, so that when I punch the holes, they all are the same.  

    Stuff like that...names on water bottles, arrows pointing to where you have to push to remove the cover for the battery, etc.  Trust me, if you show up with a bottle of the stuff and start looking around, you'll come up with more!

    I suppose if you can't find the pointy-tip applicator, you could dip a toothpick into the open bottle of fluid and use it like paint or ink, like with a fountain/dip pen.
     
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    Pearl Sutton wrote:
    Help label sentimental items with where they came from and their story.




    THIS! I so wish this had been done in my family 😔
     
    You would be much easier to understand if you took that bucket off of your head. And that goes for the tiny ad too!
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