6 Last-Minute Holiday Gifts: Exciting, Entertaining, Easily Obtainable–2013

Need a last-minute gift for an older person without the enduring the hectic last-minute crowds?  Here’s my short list.  It highlights exciting, pleasurable and practical gifts that can help parents and grandparents age well.

  • Lottery tickets, whether they are the scratch-off or wait-for-selection-of-the-winning-numbers-kind, add excitement to life.
  • Christmas LightsA drive with you to see the holiday decorations. Especially at night, when many older people are insecure about going out, the light displays are a great treat.
  • Open Table gift card simple, free sign up. You select restaurant (from ***** on down, in 33 cities), select card design, and amount of $ you wish to spend. More info: (888) 503-7558 or gifts@opentable.com Gift card emailed to you to print out that same day. Many older people prefer their largest meal at lunch for various reasons; whatever meal, they can invite friends if you provide enough $.
  • Netflix conveniently provides seniors, who don’t go out to the movies, many hours of entertainment.
  • Filling the car with gas for a senior on fixed income, or helping with other such essentials is a welcome gift.  While shopping and taking out my led pocket magnifying glass to help the saleswoman read the care label on a coat, an 81-year-old lady, buying a jacket for her granddaughter, joined the conversation. When I asked her what she’d like for Christmas, she quickly replied “my health,” then added “and someone filling up my gas tank….I just bought gas and it’s so expensive.”
  • An IOU to take non-driving seniors shopping/to the doctor etc. and back.

While Netflix comes with a gift card, and lottery tickets speak for themselves, making a card for the last two gifts only requires a recipe/index card or a piece of paper onto which a picture of a car (gas-tank side showing?) is pasted.


Changing weekly: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some free and some fun stuff–to help parents age well. 

Aging Feet, Toes, and Nails: Withstanding the Test of Time

The 10/2/12 NY Times, Science Times Q+a column highlighted this question: “Why do toenails thicken as we age but fingernails don’t?”

Immediately I remembered a friend telling me that her 100-year-old old mother-in-law had “awful toenails–thick–wouldn’t let anyone touch them” so they were getting worse and worse–what to do?

Old feet aren’t readily visible. They’re the complete opposite of the prettily polished nails and pampered feet in strappy open-toe shoes and sandals we see all summer. Indeed, are we aware when our parents are no longer limber enough to cut their toe nails? Possibly like me, you don’t often think of aging parents’ feet and nails, unless there’s a problem. But being proactive, as we’ve all learned, saves later problems.

The Times column cites Dr. Richard Scher, head of the Nail Section at Weil Cornell Medical College, explaining that finger and toe nails’ growth rate rapidly decreases with age so both kinds of nails thicken due to the piling up of cells, although fingernails don’t thicken as much. (Finger nails have a slower growth rate, the result of filing and buffing which thins them, so it’s understandable that they aren’t as affected.)

Additionally, long-term trauma and poor circulation take their toll on toe nails, as do injuries, stubbing, wearing ill-fitting shoes, nail-bed injuries and nail fungus.

I discussed the above with Dr. Pamela Karman, Diplomate/American Board of Foot Surgeons, this week in New York. She advises soaking feet in warm water, which softens toenails, before cutting them.

 As nails thicken, making  them more difficult to cut, Dr. Karman suggests having them done professionally once a month after age 55-60. This especially holds true for people with diabetes or unsteady hands.

A podiatrist or a manicurist can do the pedicures older people require. I remember after Mother died, Dad took the car keys saying he’d be back shortly. He was driving to to Mother’s manicurist to have his toe nails (which he could no longer easily reach at 91) cut. He added that all the older men in the condo complex where he and Mother lived, went there.

The holidays are approaching; so will be our never-ending search for the right gifts for older people.  Wouldn’t pedicures (ideally 1 a month) be a great and practical gift as we try to help parents age well.

“Of Current Interest” (right sidebar) links to timely information and research–plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.

Related:  A Mayo Clinic photo-lesson on trimming thickened toenails