Posts Tagged ‘Christmas gifts’

Holiday Blues: dealing with depression

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Holiday blues. We all know someone, or someone whose loved one, is dealing with depression. Severe depression is debilitating, but there are levels of depression, and even a mild case such as being down in the dumps can take its toll. This was the focus of To Your Health’s latest offering, “How to Keep the Holidays Happy – Managing the Holiday Blues.” Torrey Harrison, LCSW, and Stephanie LeBlanc, LCSW, both from Tri-County Mental Health, were the presenters at a recent Senior College talk.

The symptoms of depression, whether minor or severe, include: feelings of sadness or unhappiness; changes in appetite (eating too much or not enough); loss of interest or pleasure; lack of energy, oversleeping or insomnia; and irritability, frustration, agitation. Harrison and LeBlanc said that one in ten Americans are impacted by depression, either personally or through a loved one, but that 80% of people struggling do not seek help.

Harrison and LeBlanc also made the following points during their presentation:

  • As with any medical condition, if you are experiencing a major disruption to your life, talk with your doctor. Medication may be in order, but there are other avenues to explore as well. Many people find help through cognitive/behavioral therapy. Talking with a non-judgmental third party can be beneficial. Improve your general wellness level through physical and social activity. Exercise and eat a healthy diet to improve your sleep patterns. All of these can help you become more aware of what triggers your depression, and help you to cope.
  • The holiday season – from Halloween to Valentine’s Day – just happens to coincide with the darkest 100 days in the northern climates. Many people suffer from a mild depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during this time. It is more common in women 20 – 55 years old, less common for men. If you did not suffer from SAD when you were younger, it is less likely you will experience it as you get older.
  • The symptoms of SAD are not at the level of intensity as those of depression, but they are the same: loss of energy and interest, feeling moody or irritable, change in appetite (often an increased craving for carbohydrates), difficulty concentrating and accomplishing tasks. All are brought on by short days and decrease in light.holiday blues discussion with Torrey_Harrison_and_Stepahnie_LeBlanc_from_Tri-County_Mental_Health
  • With SAD there is no one thing that will help everyone. It is important to find things that work for you. Many people find that using full-spectrum lights at home or at work greatly improves their well-being. Known as “happy lights,” these are readily available. (Ask for one for Christmas, to help you beat the holiday blues!) Taking extra vitamin D or St. John’s wort is of benefit to some. If you know you experience a mood dip in October, plan things to look forward to during the dark season. Try to stay in the moment of what’s happening now. Be realistic – do you really need to make four pies for Thanksgiving? Reach out and connect to others. Do something for someone else – it really does help you feel better! And don’t forget to take time out for yourself, even just a few minutes. Avoid getting too busy.
  • With family, decide what the holidays mean to you, and keep that in mind. Buy into what you want to do, not what others expect of you. Identify points of possible tension, and work to avoid them. Laugh! Have a favorite joke at the ready. And if you can’t laugh, force yourself to smile. Smiling will make you feel better. Beat those holiday blues!

Managing Holiday Blues

Being mindful of these points will help us manage the “Holiday Blues.” This article on holiday blues was taken from the Maine Senior College Network December newsletter.

Apps for Aging: iPad Apps & Assistive Technology

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Are you looking for apps for aging? Do you use iPads in your therapy classes, or wish that you could use simple assistive technology to help a loved one?

The iPad is having a profound impact on the lives of older adults, family members, and care providers. Thousands of apps for aging have been developed to promote, health, safety, independence, and emotional well-being. In addition, there are hundreds of iPad accessories and adaptations to accommodate for challenges associated with hearing, vision, memory, arthritis, or high blood pressure.

Apps for aging are everywhere!

Assistive Technology in New Hampshire is sponsoring an Apps for Aging Webinar May 16 that will introduce you to a wide variety of apps for aging. This webinar will discuss an assortment of iPad apps and accessories which can benefit older adults, including apps for:

• low vision

• easier reading and writing

• hearing impairments

• remembering important events, people, and activitiesapps for aging is a specilaty of Therese Willkomm

• locating people, cars, misplaced items, and bathrooms

• speaking difficulties

• reducing anxiety and depression

• controlling appliances in the home

• recording heart rate, blood pressure, food intact, exercise and sleep patterns

• real time video chats with loved ones and service providers

Participants will also learn ways that the iPad can be quickly adapted to accommodate for a variety of vision, communication, or physical impairments.

Apps for Aging Presenter

Therese Willkomm, Ph.D., ATP, directs the NH Statewide Assistive Technology (AT) Program with the Institute on Disability, is a clinical assistant professor in the University of New Hampshire Department of Occupational Therapy, and coordinates the graduate certificate in AT and the disability studies minor. Known internationally as “The MacGyver of Assistive Technology” and more recently as an expert in iPad modifications and apps for individuals with disabilities, Dr. Willkomm has provided AT services for over 28 years and authored 22 publications.

Senior Gifts: making fun senior gifts

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Senior gifts can be difficult to come by when your loved one seems to have it all. Making your senior gifts useful, not just decorative, can be a key to successful senior gifts and presents.

senior gifts can include home-made presentsSo make stuff for your senior gifts. If you’re handy in the shop, a book holder or playing card holder, nicely finished and supplied with large face cards or a new novel, would make wonderful senior gifts. You can find ideas and patterns on-line.  Make cookies, bread and rolls or soup and freeze them in appropriate-sized portions. Home made food makes splendid gifts for seniors.

Simplicity has patterns for a number of senior items, from aprons and wheelchair robes to walker bags. It would be a fun event if you supplied a gift box including a pattern and a selection of fabrics, and arranged to bring a portable sewing machine and spend an afternoon with your senior, putting together these simple necessities as a custom gift.

Senior Gifts Can Solve A Problem

Think about helpful senior gifts that solve a problem. If your loved one is hard of hearing or spends time focused on the TV or computer, there are flashing doorbells and phone flashers/amplifiers. Choosing and installing products can ahve a realy positive long term benefit. How about a portable phone that can move easily from room to room? Senior gifts that are functional can be especially good choices.

Do you have a senior who really needs to declutter or downsize? Take photos of pieces of furniture or treasures that need to go. Often, seniors can part with the item if they have an image that triggers the good memories. Senior gifts can include creating a “memory picture book” of dad’s old sweater, the cookbooks from 30 years ago, or a beat up chair that used to hold all the kids.

Don’t forget the cozy sheepskin slip-ons (with a good non-skid bottom), lightweight fleece tops and bottoms, or even a lightweight fleece hat to wear around the house. Easy, washable layers should be somewhat tailored fitting, however, to avoid tripping, catching on doorknobs or coming in contact with hot burners.

Finally, given senior gifts that honor your loved one and recognize their community interests. Gifts to Habitat for Humanity in your area, the Heifer Project or a Kiva account are wonderful. Heifer Project gifts are wonderful senior gifts for farmers, folks who raised chickens or rabbits, bee keepers and foresters. Kiva allows the recipient to invest (in $25 increments) in entrepreneurial project all around the world, with frequent updates.

Giving thoughtful gifts with a generous spirit means so much more than a generous wallet. Check out gifts for seniors for more ideas! Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Gifts for Seniors: senior holiday ideas

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Still looking for gifts for seniors? Stretch your imagination! Sometimes gifts for seniors are waiting at the grocery store, in the sewing aisle at your local home goods store, or even on-line.

gifts for seniors can include flowering bulbsFirst, check out your local garden center, grocery store or a place like Reny’s for bulbs. Amaryllis bulbs make great gift gifts for seniors when you plant them in a nice pot. Put three of a kind in a small window box for a fabulous display. They don’t take up much room, can survive a wide temperature variation (but not freezing), don’t need much watering, and grow slowly and reliably, giving weeks of pleasure. And the blooms last for several weeks. Or make a calendar garden. Start with narcissus in a clear pot with gravel for January. Get a hyacinth or two in little water jars for February. The amaryllis will bloom by March. Add a pot of daffodils kept in a cool location and your senior will have early spring flowers.

While pets can sometimes make great gifts for seniors, they require a financial commitment and care. If a cat, dog or bird is too much for your senior, consider Beta (Siamese fighting fish). They don’t require much care, live in a regular sized fish bowl (rather than an aquarium) and come in a striking array of colors. They do best in a fairly warm house. Make sure you include fish food.

Gifts for Seniors Can Include Services

Give a service. Gifts for seniors could include time with a loved one doing something special. Make up a little manicure kit with clear nail polish and other necessities, and supply a gift card for monthly manicures and a nice visit. Mark it on the calendar so you’ll both remember. Home made gift cards for snow shoveling, foot massages or specific household tasks are appreciated. Or supply an event: movie tickets, theater tickets, a trip to the Gray animal farm, or a lighthouse tour with lunch might be a great gift for someone who wants companionship and time with you. Or offer garden tilling with some seeds, or car washes with a new sponge.

Check out senior gifts for more ideas.

 

Grandchildren and College: College Tuition Help from Grandparents

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Have you always planned to help your grandchildren pay for college? With the price of college nowadays, college tuition help from grandparents matters more than ever. There are several ways you can help them with college expenses and save on your tax bill at the same time.

Here are three tips to help grandchildren pay for college.

College Tuition Help from Grandparents

1. Write a Check to the Child

Just as in 2011, you can give a grandchild $13,000 in cash a year — or $26,000 if your spouse joins in the gift — without incurring gift tax implications. Write the check and give it to your grandchild. Still have time before college? Set up a custodial account at a bank, mutual fund or brokerage firm. The money can be used for tuition or other college-related expenses.

2. Give Stock

College tuition help from grandparents can also take the form of appreciated stock or other investments. If you give appreciated stock or other investments to your college-bound grandkids, your family can potentially cut the capital gains tax bill. Let’s say you want to sell stock you’ve owned two years to free up some cash for tuition. You will probably pay 15 percent capital gains tax rate on the profit. But you can give a certain amount to your grandkids at a lower tax rate.

Keep in mind that if your child is under age 19, or age 24 if a full-time student, the Kiddie Tax rules may apply.

college tuition help from grandparentsIf a child affected by the Kiddie Tax rules receives “unearned income” above a $1,900 threshold in 2012 (unchanged from 2011), the excess is taxed at the top tax rate of the child’s parents. In other words, a portion of your child’s earnings could be taxed at a rate of up to 35 percent. If the threshold is not exceeded, the Kiddie Tax doesn’t apply for that year. If it is exceeded, only unearned income in excess of the threshold gets taxed at the parents’ higher rates.

3. Pay Tuition Yourself

Tuition can be paid directly to a financial institution with no gift tax implications, under current tax law,  but the money cannot pass through the hands of grandchildren (or their parents) first. It has to go right to the university. This approach might be appealing if you’re worried about the youngsters spending it frivolously.

This tax break applies only to tuition and can’t be used to pay room, board and other college expenses. However, you can still give your grandchild a cash gift of up to $13,000 in 2012 (unchanged from 2011) to cover those other expenses ($26,000 if your spouse joins in the gift) and not incur any gift tax implications. College tuition help from grandparents: the gift that keeps on giving.

Senior gifts: ideas for Christmas presents for seniors

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Need more holiday gift ideas for Maine seniors? Here are a few from our alert readers:

Sam H. from South Freeport suggests gift cards from Shaw’s, Hannafords or other supermarkets. Especially handy because they can be used for everything from perscriptions to fresh flowers!

Erica H. from New Hampshire suggests craft kits that seniors can make with grandchildren, like mosaic stones for the garden, colorful plant pots or birdseed pinecones. You provide the supplies, the kids and the camera!

Tom J. from Portland suggests gift certificates to transportation services like ITN or a local cab company. Work it out so that you can run a tab, and your loved one can regain some independence.

Gail L. of Rumford loves the idea of rotating meal-visits or outings. Breakfast one month, lunch the next, then dinner, and finally a movie out, then start again. It guarantees a monthly date and something for both of you to look forward to!

Joyce K. of Windham bought photo albums and scheduled time to sit with her grandparents and go through some old boxes of photos, label them, and get them in “family history” albums…something we all say we’re going to do, but somehow….. this is a great, inexpensive teen idea.

Keep those ideas coming!


Last minute gift ideas for seniors: 29 easy, inexpensive gifts from the heart

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Need some Maine senior gift ideas? Wondering what senior Christmas presents to get the folks who don’t want a single thing, have too much already, or don’t want to deal with any more stuff? Most older folks don’t really want to add to collections, their drawers are filled with unworn sweaters and their closet holds a stack of slippers.

What makes a good gift? Choose consumables! And that includes time. Here are some quick tips by category:

holiday greetings from Maine Senior GuideFood items

Other consumables

  • Lotion, home made hand scrub, bath salts
  • A gift certificate to hair salon or barber
  • Stamps and note cards
  • Gift certificates for help around the house or with seasonal chores

Trips, Events and Outings

Give experiences. And say that you’ll go along, because often seniors want more time with their families. Many seniors like:

  • Memory Lane trip, a narrated trip (someone else drives around a special area, the senior talks, and you ask questions and take notes and photos)
  • Trip through the china closet, where each special piece is discussed and photographed, so you’ll never wonder which side of the family it came from
  • A calendar with a monthly date all set for a fun outing
  • Membership in local Audubon, historical society or any other special interest group
  • Movie tickets
  • Theater tickets at your community theater or summer stock
  • Community ed trips to area happenings
  • Museum entrance and lunch, from the Portland Museum of Art to the Maine State Museum, Maine Maritime Museum, or Institute of Contemporary Art.
  • Bowling
  • Sleigh ride
  • Out to buy hobby supplies
  • Manicure/pedicure
  • To local greenhouse

Charitable donations

Many seniors appreciate a gift given in their name if they can’t quite afford to support a favorite charity. And the gift doesn’t have to be money. Volunteer at an agency once a month as a gift of time to your older loved one.

Christmas Thanks

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

I’d like to take a moment out of this busy day to thank my two sons for a great Christmas gift: understanding and empathy.

Last year, when I started Maine Senior Guide and there was a lot more money going out in business development than was coming in for writing services, I decided to shut down my hot tub to decrease our family’s electric bill. My hot tub was an extension of my office: I read there, planned my writing and worked on proposals. I was in the tub at least once a day, far more than other family members, so it was a sad (though brave) recognition of economic reality, and one of several belt-tightening measures over the last 18 months as we launched the business.

Ben and Aaron

My sons decided that they needed to lower my stress level, so for Christmas they put the tub back together, got it filled and heated, and handed me a cash gift of the money needed to run the tub for a year. It was an incredibly generous gesture, but more than that, it was insightful and attentive.  I love that they thought about how they could they help mum relax and enjoy her life and the entrepreneurial journey a little more.

They are 22 and 25, out of college, fledged into their own lives and both experimenting with jobs on the other side of the country.  As I watch the winter night sparkle from the warm depths of the tub, I remember that the stars are there all the time, we just can’t always see them, and that they pass from my night’s vision to appear later in Colorado and finally in California. The stars in your sky are the stars in mine, and I love you, boys.

Gifts for Maine Seniors

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Wow, it’s a week before Christmas, and you’re still looking for a special gift for a senior? Here are a few suggestions for gifts for Maine seniors that might fit the bill:

Check out your local garden center or food store for bulbs. Amaryllis bulbs make great gifts when you plant them in a nice pot. They don’t take up much room, can survive a wide temperature variation (but no freezing), don’t need much watering, and grow slowly and reliably, giving weeks of pleasure. And the blooms last for several weeks.

As for other living gifts, generally pets aren’t a great idea. That said, I love Beta (Siamese fighting fish) and have given several as gifts. They don’t require much care, live in a regular sized fish bowl (rather than an aquarium) and come in a striking array of colors. They do best in a fairly warm house.

Give a service. Make up a little manicure kit with clear nail polish and other necessities, and supply a gift card for monthly manicures. Mark it on the calendar so you’ll both remember. Home made gift cards for snow shoveling, foot massages or specific household tasks are appreciated. Or supply an event: movie tickets, theater tickets, a trip to the Gray animal farm, or a lighthouse tour with lunch might be a great gift for someone who wants companionship and time with you. Or offer garden tilling with some seeds, or car washes with a new sponge.

Make stuff. If you’re handy in the shop, a book holder or playing card holder, nicely finished and supplied with large face cards or a new novel, would make a wonderful gift. Make cookies, bread and rolls or soup and freeze them in appropriate-sized portions. Simplicity has patterns for a number of senior items, from aprons and wheelchair robes to walker bags. It would be a fun event if you supplied a gift box including a pattern and a selection of fabrics, and arranged to bring a portable sewing machine and spend an afternoon with your senior, putting together these simple necessities as a custom gift.

Think about helpful gifts that solve a problem. If your loved one is hard of hearing or spends time focused on the TV or computer, there are flashing doorbells and phone flashers/amplifiers.  How about a portable phone that can move easily from room to room?

Don’t forget the cozy sheepskin slip-ons (with a good non-skid bottom), lightweight fleece tops and bottoms, or even a lightweight fleece hat to wear around the house. Easy, washable layers should be somehwat tailored fitting, however, to avoid tripping, catching on doorknobs or coming in contact with hot burners.

Finally, gifts to Habitat for Humanity in your area, the Heifer Project or a Kiva account are wonderful. Kiva allows the recipient to invest (in $25 increments) in entrepreneurial project all around the world, with frequent updates.

 Giving thoughtful gifts with a generous spirit means so much more than a generous wallet. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!