Second WInd: Gift ideas for the geezers on your list |

Second WInd: Gift ideas for the geezers on your list

Yes, it may be too early to think about holiday gifts, but it’s smart to act now before the good stuff is gone – before Harry and David are sold out of the bargain pears and the Lego set de jour is on back-order.

So, stifle your groans and come along with me on a short tour of what you can give older adults who may not have everything, but who still don’t want you to spend your money on anything – at least not on anything for them.

You will, of course. And here are a few things they might like. If you can’t find these products locally, all of them can be found at

For the home

Caddies: Who doesn’t waste time searching for the TV remote, their glasses and the cell phone? Sofa and bedside caddies are the answer.

Special phones: Look for phones that have higher volume rings, large numbers or dial-by-family-picture features.

Throws and shawls: These will keep your favorite elder warm in the winter. You can also remind grandmother that the 1950’s fur stole she may have in her closet makes a great wrap for watching TV — if she can get past the criticism from her grandchildren for wearing fur. (These same grandkids eat burgers and carry leather backpacks – so go figure.)

For the bath

Removable showerhead: How else are you going to wash your hair well or rinse off those private parts without taking the water to the part? People have to stand on their heads to get a really good rinse of their undersides with a stationary showerhead.

Grab bar: This is a good gift for all ages, not just older people. Bathers fall in slippery tubs no matter how old they are. A grab bar won’t look glittery under the tree but once it’s up, people love them. And they come in designer finishes now.

For the kitchen

Jar lid opener: Loss of hand strength makes opening jars a chore and these simple little devices save time and swear words. Every kitchen should have one or two jar lid openers.

Reacher: These long-handled pincher devices can lift food products off a top shelf. They also help older people avoid the prelude to a bad fall – otherwise known as getting on a stepladder. A reacher will also pick up stuff from floors if someone can’t bend over. Most have a magnet on the end for picking up coins from the floor.

For grooming

Sock donners: Anybody who has trouble pulling on tight socks – either because of arthritis or recent surgery – will love sock donners. Put the socks partly on the device and just pull them on.

Long-handled shoehorns: These help mobility-impaired older folks slip into their shoes with ease.

Nail clippers with fat handles: Manufacturers such as OXO have learned that many of us like kitchen doo-dads with big fat handles. Now the idea is spreading to grooming products. People can really get a grip on these clippers.

Helping at their home

A gift certificate of your time: This may be the best gift of all. Older people need help, but often will not ask for it.

Here are some of the things you can do: Install the grab bars and showerhead you gave them, clean the gutters, rake the leaves, shovel the snow, bring in the wood, clean the fireplace, clean the freezer, take them to the doctor or be a sport and take them to a jazz or swing concert.

With permission, throw out expired items in the refrigerator, pantry and medicine chest. Also, change those high light bulbs for them and make sure every light bulb in the house is operational. Do a safety check to prevent falls: stow electrical cords along the baseboard and tack down scatter rugs or ask permission to remove them.

Great idea: Make a gift basket of several of these easy living gifts. Throw in a bottle of something nice – perfume, wine or pear cider.

Now you have both mom and dad taken care of. In more ways than one.


The author of four non-fiction books, gerontologist Mel Walsh has a new book of advice for the 50+ woman coming out in March – “Hot Granny,” published by Chronicle Books. Write Mel at or at 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945. More info at

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