Gift ideas with focus on health, safety

Think Outside of the Box With These Present Suggestions

Have you finished your Christmas shopping? What do you get someone who is difficult to shop for? Have you considered getting something that might help improve someone’s health, livelihood or safety? Here are a few ideas for gifts ranging from inexpensive to those that are more expensive. One simple device that every household should have is a working thermometer. Having the ability to measure temperature is an important bit of information to assess illness. Temperature can be measured with a mouth thermometer, ear device or skin device. These can range from $5 to $40 depending on the device.

Other devices can help assess health-related parameters. One would be a blood pressure measuring device. These are readily available and can automatically measure blood pressure and heart rate with reliable accuracy. These devices can help people with high blood pressure help make sure they are at their goal. An automatic blood pressure device can be purchased for about $40.  Another device available for home use is an oxygen saturation monitor, which can be of help to monitor illness and treatment of lung disease. These devices measure the oxygen saturation of the blood and the heart rate. They are now available for $20 to $30. Another common home instrument that can be used to assess fluid retention and monitor weight is a good, reliable bathroom scale.

There are devices that can improve home safety that homes or apartments may be lacking. A working smoke detector ($8 to $40) is a lifesaving device every living space should have. A carbon monoxide detector ($10 to $50) is another device that can detect the odorless deadly gas that can accumulate in a house and be very dangerous. Some homes are at risk for having dangerous levels of radon gas, the second leading cause of lung cancer. A radon gas detection kit can be purchased to assess if radon is a risk.

Sometimes people need assistive devices to help them maintain their independence. A cane or a walker can help improve stability and mobility. Some walkers come with seats that can be quite handy when someone needs to sit frequently. Also a lift chair can be quite helpful to keep people moving by helping them safely go from a sitting to standing position. A manual wheelchair is a device that can improve mobility for people who have severe arthritis, heart disease or lung disease.  A motorized wheelchair is a more expensive device, but this can dramatically improve an individual’s ability to be mobile. Lastly, a hospital bed can help keep people in their home. 

Some home remodeling projects can significantly help people to stay in their homes. Some can be relatively simple, like handrails in the shower or around the toilet. Others can be more expensive, but much appreciated. Some examples include a ramp to provide wheelchair access to the house, a walk in tub or shower, moving the laundry appliances out of the basement and moving the sleeping, living and laundry to one level.

Individuals who live alone or spend time at home alone are at risk of falling and being stranded without help. A Life Alert system or a mobile phone that can be carried in the house at all times can be a great safety device to prevent people spending a night (or longer) on the floor.

These are just some health related ideas that you might consider as you are doing your Christmas shopping. Stay healthy my friends.

Michael Shattuck, MD, is a family practice physician at ThedaCare Physicians-Wautoma.