Accountable Healthcare - 11 Gifts to Improve Health
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December 16, 2021

11 Gifts to Improve Health

Holiday offerings

Still on your holiday shopping list: a family member with a medical condition, a partner in need of a good night's sleep, a close friend trying to stay in shape, a child on the autism spectrum.

Here's a wide assortment of gift ideas for the people in your life, whether they're staying on top of chronic health issues, seeking overall wellness or just ready to have a little fun.

1. Blood pressure monitor

A home blood pressure monitor makes a heart-healthy gift for someone with hypertension. Now more than ever in the telemedicine era, people are independently checking their blood pressure instead of only relying on doctors’ office visits.

Blood pressure monitors that use upper-arm cuffs are considered more accurate than around-the-wrist cuffs. You can find blood monitors that have been verified for clinical accuracy on the US Blood Pressure Validated Device Listing,a resource from the American Medical Association.

2. Fun toys for children with autism

When choosing gifts for kids on the autism spectrum, the first tip is to ask the child (or parent) directly whenever possible, says Mary Jane Weiss, associate dean of applied behavior analysis at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts.

“Often, children with autism have very distinct interests in a certain topic,” Weiss says. “If this is the case, books and toys that relate to their interests may be a hit. Some children are sensitive to sensory input, and those sensitivities are highly individual.”

Gift suggestions from Weiss include:

  • Calming items like noise machines or lights with tranquil sounds and images.
  • Weighted blankets or weighted stuffed toys.
  • Games that build social skills while having fun like Connect 4 or memory card games.
  • Legos and other blocks can also help kids learn to take turns.
  • Headphones for music listening.
  • Equipment for a favorite sport.
  • Items related to a preferred movie or show.

3. Exercise gear for active seniors

"Regular exercise is your best solution for finding the fountain of youth," says Dr. Diane Schneider, a geriatrician and author of "The Complete Book of Bone Health."

Walking is best for overall fitness, she says, so walking shoes make a healthy gift. Exercise bands are good for muscle resistance and stretching, while balance trainers and exercise balls promote balance and stability – and reduce the risk of falls.

4. Home gym machines

If you’re looking to give a big-ticket item to boost health, consider an exercise machine. Home fitness equipment is a gift that keeps on giving by motivating recipients to work out conveniently. Consider these trendy or tried-and-true fitness devices:

  • Exercise bikes, rowers and ellipticals. These gym staples never go out of style.
  • Treadmills. Turn on a treadmill to take a walk or run without having to leaving home.
  • Stair steppers and vertical climbers. Get a low-impact, full-body climbing workout.
  • Mirrored screens. Fitness mirrors or smart mirrors enhance the home workout experience.

5. Protective pandemic items

While they won’t be the most fun presents in anyone’s holiday stocking, supplies to help stave off COVID-19 are health-conscious and extremely practical. Preventive items include:

  • N95 or surgical masks.
  • Hand sanitizer for home and travel.
  • Soap bottles for every sink.
  • Digital thermometers for temperature checks.
  • Environmental Protection Agency-listed disinfectants for coronavirus.

6. Fresh fruit delivery

Fruit-of-the-month clubs make great healthy reminders for people who can't always stock their fridge with fresh produce, says registered dietitian Keri Gans, an author and U.S. News Eat + Run blogger.

Organic fruit, exotic fruit, California fruit, citrus choices, seasonal selections – take your pick. Costs vary, but many options run at about $30 to $40 a month, with half-year and 12-month memberships.

7. Kitchenware for inspiration

A new set of pots and pans or kitchen knives can motivate people to do more home cooking, Gans says. Cookware can be expensive, but affordable kitchen items – like a durable chef's knife – also make great gifts.

Or, you can send someone to cooking class. "This is only good for a person who has expressed an interest – otherwise it could be misconstrued that their cooking is awful," she warns. "But it can be very helpful for someone who wants to maintain their weight and doesn't know their way around the kitchen."

8. Essentials to deal with diabetes

Thoughtful gifts give a lift to people with Type 1 diabetes.

  • For adults facing high insulin costs, a gift card for a major pharmacy chain may offer welcome relief.
  • For children, Rufus the Bear with Diabetes can provide comfort while helping them learn about managing their condition. JDRF International, a global Type 1 diabetes research and advocacy organization, provides the stuffed animal in their Bag of Hope for newly diagnosed children, and has launched a version for sale. “Rufus is great for mental health. He shows you where to take insulin injections on your body and where you test your fingers,” says Arielle Cilaire, senior manager of marketing operations with JDRF. The latest version is associated with a new app “where you can walk around with Rufus and be in his little world.”
  • A big box of Level Life Glucose Gel, used to quickly raise too-low blood sugar, would make a great gift for someone with Type 1 diabetes, Cilaire says. (Other brands are available.)
  • Myabetic is company with stylish diabetes accessories, such as cases, purses and garments that can hold diabetes supplies.
  • Senita Athletics is a source for active leisurewear, such as athletic bras with pockets to conveniently place insulin pumps while working out.

9. Low-vision or no-vision items

If you’re shopping for someone who is blind or visually impaired, the Braille Institute of America has a comprehensive holiday gift list to help. Useful and fun suggestions include:

  • Large-print keyboard.
  • Talking clock or watch.
  • Large-print or Braille measuring cups to keep cooking.
  • Talking thermometer.
  • Large-print playing cards.
  • Games such as Scrabble, Bingo and Uno in Braille or low-vision versions.
  • Creative, bendable construction sticks for children.
  • Beeping foam ball for playing with easier tracking.

10. Sleep support

A white-noise machine drowns out unwanted sounds at bedtime, while a simple "worry journal" to keep at the bedside lets people jot down concerns before going to sleep.

Dr. Christopher Winter, a sleep specialist and neurologist based in Charlottesville, Virginia, and author of “The Rested Child” and “The Sleep Solution” suggests some higher-end sleep-promoting gifts:

  • Weighted blanket with cooling action. "Attention to temperature often provides a huge improvement in terms of sleep quality,” says Winter, who likes a special cooling blanket called the ChiliSleep ChiliBlanket. “This product can either be slept under or on top of – either way, it can dramatically cool a bed. I often find weighted blankets can be very helpful in some patients, particularly if they sleep restlessly. The biggest complaint with (standard) weighted blankets is that they can be hot at night.”
  • Sleep tracker wearable. For Winter, his favorite is a ScanWatch. “With the (additional) sleep pad, it provides great insight into sleep,” he says.
  • Blue-light blockers.Avoid sleep-disruptive blue light before bed with special night glasses. Winter suggests options from Swanwick.
  • Circadian health wearable.This device by Ayo may help you wake up feeling better.

11. Asthma- and allergy-friendly products

A clean environment can mean the difference between wheezing and breathing well for people with asthma and allergies. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America certifies a variety of products – including vacuums, humidifiers, air purifiers and bedding – as more suitable for people with these respiratory conditions.

For children who are allergic to certain foods, such as milk, peanuts, eggs and shellfish, you can bake allergen-free treats from recipes on the Kids With Food Allergies website.