“A fancy department store box with pajamas, a robe or a sweater, gourmet treats or designer cologne are all traditional and thoughtful gifts. But if you want to really show someone with special needs that you are concerned about their well-being, check out your local pharmacy for gifts they’ll use every day,” said Debbie Jansky, assistant nurse manager, Home Health Services at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.
Jansky and her team of 35 registered nurses, therapists, social workers and home health aides make about 1,600 home visits each month to those who need skilled nursing or physical therapy in their home.
“It’s very sad to see patients receive gifts of expensive perfume or cardigans that they may never enjoy because they can’t open the bottle or unbutton the buttons,” Jansky said. “These are the items I recommend regularly and are used and appreciated every day,” she said.
Here are Jansky’s top picks for holiday gifts:
Medication organizers – $1.50-$10. Help mom or dad keep track of all their pills. Available in all shapes and sizes (daily, weekly), these tools will give the whole family peace of mind that the right pill is being taken at the right time.
Pill cutter – $3. Many pills and tablets need to be halved or quartered. These handy devices offer precise cutting with minimal effort.
Pill punch – $8. “Many medications come in a multipunch card that those with arthritis have trouble manipulating,” said Clark Chrisman, a Gottlieb pharmacist. “The pill punch easily pushes the individual pill through the sealed packaging.”
ID bracelet – $7 and up. A simple piece of jewelry alerts healthcare professionals to important medical information such as allergies to penicillin, congestive heart failure or diabetes.
Grabber – $28. A sturdy clawlike hand tool that can be used to retrieve a box of crackers from the top shelf or a slipper that got kicked too far under the couch.
Adjustable cane – $27. A cane that compresses to a 5-inch-long stick, much like a collapsible umbrella. It’s small enough to place in a purse or coat pocket and quickly can be assembled to provide support.
Medicool – $45. Keeps insulin or other medications cool and organized.
Rollator – $160. A luxurious walker with high-quality wheels and brakes, a basket for shopping and a handy bench to stop and rest.
Accessible bathroom aids – $27-$100. Hand-held water sprayers, toilet-seat benches and bathtub safety rails may look insignificant in their box but install them in the bathroom and you have created a safe haven that will be used, well, regularly.
“You might also ask a caregiver or health professional who cares for them to suggest something,” Jansky said. “Hearing aids, special compression stockings and orthotic shoe inserts may not sound glamorous. However, they may really need these things and many people are reluctant to spend money on items that their insurance might not fully cover.”
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola’s Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.