Use a search engine to ask ‘What to buy a 65 year old for Christmas’, and the results are rather predictable – alcohol, socks or a scarf and something nostalgic like a lucky sixpence. All very nice gifts, but none of which will help to improve the strength, skills, stamina and suppleness of the older person in your life. As we approach another Christmas when money is tight, why not think creatively about presents that will be useful and improve the wellbeing of our older friends and relatives?
Regular physical activity is important at any time in your life, but especially as you age. In County Durham, 45.7% of our population are classed as economically inactive (compared to 39.1% nationally). The majority of these are retired (25.6%). This is higher than national (21.5%) and has grown at a faster rate (1.2% increase locally, 0.3% nationally).
With an increasingly older population, regular physical exercise may be a beneficial strategy for optimal health and to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. So, if you’re thinking about gifts for people in your family or friendship groups, why not think about a new experience in exercise or learning?
One of the most precious gifts we can share is time – time to go for a walk or enjoy an activity together. Other suggestions include items that will help to reduce the risk of frailty and other long term health conditions, boosting physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Let’s give presents to help the older adults we care about to recondition, rejuvenate, and reduce their risk of dementia too. Why not make 2023 the year you give gifts that enable the older adults in your life to live longer better in 2024?
Gift idea number 1 – an electric toothbrush. A two minute timer toothbrush is the perfect way to remind an older person you care about to stand (on one leg if they can) for 2 minutes when brushing their teeth – to improve their strength and balance as well as helping them to care for their gums and teeth!
Gift idea number 2 – activity tracker or fitness watch. Regular physical activity is important at any time in your life, but especially as you age. Walking is a free and achievable activity, and some studies suggest that between 4,000 and 8,000 steps a day can be beneficial to older adults. They say what gets measured gets done!
Gift idea number 3 – a set of resistance bands. All adults and older adults should aim to do activities that aim to build strength on at least 2 days a week – a set of resistance bands is a cost and space effective way to give someone the necessary equipment to help them keep their muscles, bones and joints strong. Much better than a box of chocolates!
Gift idea number 4 – swap a pair of slippers for a pair of trainers. Older adults should be aiming to walk briskly for 30 minutes a day for optimal health. Regular physical exercise may be a beneficial strategy to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. Exercise may directly benefit brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain. Equip the older adults in your life with comfortable shoes that are fit for purpose and get them striding out with confidence in 2024.
Gift idea number 5 – a yoga mat. All adults should aim to do activities that will reduce the risk of falls and improve balance on at least 2 days a week, so gifting a mat that will encourage someone to practice yoga at home or at a class will be a great start to a healthy and safe new year. A gift that shows you care far more than a bottle of wine.
Gift idea number 6 – a book of crosswords and puzzles. Challenging your brain and mind can help to reduce your risk of developing dementia. Help to improve the cognitive ability of the older adults in your life with a challenging puzzle or two rather than a pair of socks.
Gift idea number 7 – a set of weights. Research shows that older people who start to lift weights typically gain muscle mass and strength, as well as better mobility, mental sharpness and metabolic health. So, if you have the budget to set up the older adults in your life to lift weights, you should do it!
Gift idea number 8 – Portable mini bike. These alternatives to a full size bicycle can be a light weight and inexpensive way to work out without having to leave the comfort of your own home. Some can be adapted to be used to exercise both arms and legs. A great gift for improving stamina and strength for someone you care about.
Gift idea number 9 – Gratitude journal or daily reflection diary. A positive attitude to ageing is essential in maintaining health and well-being. Studies have found that practicing gratitude can help people sleep better, lower stress and improve interpersonal relationships. A gift that will not take up a great deal of time but could have very powerful benefits for its recipient.
Gift idea number 10 – gym membership, personal training session or local community centre class. Some people simply like being told what to do by a professional. Your local gym, PT or community centre class will welcome anyone who wants to be more active, regardless of age or ability. It is never too soon or too late to improve your fitness.
Gift idea number 11 – dance classes. Dancing will boost your mood and improve your confidence as well as improving the mind-body connection and build co-ordination and balance. Another great way to reduce anyone’s risk of developing dementia in a way that a set of smellies never could.
Gift idea number 12 – ‘How to Increase your Brainability and Reduce your Risk of Dementia’. This book will equip and encourage the reader to live longer better – what more could anyone want? And if you’re sorted with your Christmas Gifts – why not consider this book as a New Year Revolution gift.