Cyber Monday Gift Ideas for Seniors

by Pamela Atwood, MA, CDP, CLL

Happy Thanksgiving. In case you haven’t noticed ~ the holidays have started. Negative political ads have been replaced by holiday “needs” in a nearly-constant bombardment of commercials, while Facebook-ers debated whether or not to shop on Thanksgiving. I think shopping for me would be much more pleasurable if I had a good sense of what each person on my list really wanted. As I was thinking last Friday of the “deals” I was surely missing as work trumped Black Friday, it struck me that you might like a list of ideas for those on your list who are elderly or living in Assisted Living or Nursing Homes. For a complete list of ideas and resources, visit and scroll down to “Your Personal Consultant.”

Hobby & Leisure – there are great resources available for everything from adapted puzzles to games and reading. The puzzles should always be age-appropriate (not childlike), and suitable for the current ability – from 4 or 6 pieces to 50 pieces. Magnetic puzzles with stands are great for those with neck problems. For reading, my newest resource is based in solid research from a physician and speech/language pathologist: This product has adapted graphics and photos, plus reading content tailored to various abilities — people with advanced dementia may still be able to read! Games which spark memories, use contrast and easy to manipulate materials are available at, and

Cognitive Fitness – books, activity cards, games and software are available in all shapes and sizes. offers the Whole Brain Workout series. Resources throughout the web offer products such as “Connect: Memory Enhancing Game” which can be used in a number of ways to improve neuronal flexibility for all abilities.

Physical Fitness – being confined to a wheel chair does not mean you should quit being active. Some of the best exercise videos are now available at very little cost. Enjoying yoga, aerobics and stretching and strengthening is now possible in your own living room or day room. Check out, and the award winning PBS special

Quality of Life – No one should have to watch garbage television, wonder where the family is or be isolated because of changes in communication. A communication book, talking photo album or alternative TV program would improve quality of life for all., and can provide ideas for any gift giving budget.

If you order through Amazon, sign up for AmazonSmile and add Hebrew Health Care as your charity: a % of your total will be donated so your gift is twice as nice.  Thank you, and Happy Holidays!


Alternatives to Emotional Eating

By Linda McDonnell, Director of Quality Improvement

When you feel the urge to eat something, stop and ask yourself “Why?” Is it mealtime or are you feeling tired, bored, angry, stressed or lonely? If your answer isn’t physical hunger, why not try some healthier alternatives to soothe yourself?

  1. Meditation. Known to reduce stress and induce calmness in addition to other health benefits. There are many styles to choose from: concentrating on one thing, focusing on sounds, or paying attention to your thoughts. Find the one style you are comfortable with.

  2. Breathing. We all breathe automatically in order to survive but paying close attention to our breathing for a short time can help distract us from negative feelings. Find a comfortable spot to sit in and close your eyes, breathe in slowly and hold for a few seconds then slowly let your breath out. Repeat this for 5 or 10 minutes, or until you are more relaxed.

  3. Get social. Volunteer, call a friend, write a letter. A pet can be a great distracter and stress reliever if you live alone.

  4. Do some physical activity. Take a walk, rake the yard, do some weeding, go on a bike ride, or clean the house. Keep busy.

  5. Relax to music. Pick music that will soothe or calm you. Have some standby favorites ready at home or on your iPod.

  6. Do some craft or artwork. Knitting, crocheting, whittling, painting or use modeling clay. Start or finish a puzzle. We’re never too old to play!

  7. Take a bath. Relaxing in a warm tub – with or without bubbles – can help soothe away the stress.

  8. Take a nap. Give yourself permission to lie down with no distractions. Even if you don’t fall asleep, just resting can be beneficial.

  9. Make a cup of tea. Sit back and relax with a hot or cold cup of tea and look out a window at the scenery or people watch.

  10. Laugh. Yes, laughter can be the best medicine. Read some jokes from a joke book or watch a favorite comedy movie. Laughter can have many health benefits.

The most important thing is to decide what alternative may work for you and be prepared ahead of time: download the music, buy the modeling clay and special tea, sign up to volunteer. Get your toolbox set up and open it up whenever you need to.

10 Tips for Getting Fit

By Irene Blumenthal, PT, MBA, Vice President of Community Services

1. Make a realistic and exciting goal
You will quickly get discouraged if the goal you set is too complicated or unrealistic, e.g. “I will complete a marathon.” You should be able to accomplish your first goal in 3-6 months to keep yourself motivated or excited, and your goal doesn’t have to be weight related. It could be something as simple as completing your first 5K race, or to be able to play a soccer game with your kids without getting out of breath.

2. Start small
Even though the recommended daily exercise is 30 minutes, you can start small by breaking that up into achievable segments: 10 minutes walking at lunch, 10 minutes playing with kids, 10 minutes stretching before bed. Remember, anything is better than nothing!

3. Check with your physician first
This is especially for anyone with chronic medical conditions or those who have not exercised regularly in many years. Seek approval before beginning any kind of formal program.

4. Try something new
Let’s face it, walking on a treadmill day after day is boring! There are so many fun ways to get your exercise in – try something you have never done before, like a zumba class, swimming, or boot camp. For more experienced fitness buffs, reach out of your comfort zone. Try a TRX class, hot yoga, or a ropes course.

5. Take a friend, spouse, or join a group
There is nothing more motivating than being accountable to someone! Whether that is a friend or spouse, or the many exercise groups there are, when you commit to a schedule with another person, you are much less likely to cancel when you are busy or just don’t feel like it. You become motivators to each other, so it’s a win-win for everyone!

6. Eat healthy
You can’t be fit if you eat junk. There is no amount of exercise that will undo a bad diet. Once you begin to exercise regularly and eat well, you will stop craving junk. There are not a lot of people who go home after a great workout and eat donuts and drink soda, because your body begins to adjust to the changes and wants healthier fuel. Indulging once in a while is okay, but once it’s consumed everyday it’s no longer an indulgence, it’s a habit. Commit to eating clean (natural, unprocessed foods) five days per week.

7. Take it outside
The fresh air of being outside makes exercise more fun. Go for a walk, play with the kids, or go for a bike ride. And it doesn’t just have to be formal exercise. Even raking leaves, vigorous gardening, or cleaning up the yard counts as calorie burning activity.

8. Sign up for a class or the gym, and pay in advance
Another great motivator is money, more precisely, not wasting it! If you sign up for something and pay for it in advance (as opposed to a pay-as-you-use-it-membership) you will be very unlikely to cancel or not go because you are tired.

9. Try something at home
If you are not ready to join a gym or go to an exercise class there are literally thousands of at home programs and DVDs you can try. You can mix and match them and not be concerned with who will see you or how you will look, and if you don’t like one of them, just move on to the next!

10. Stick to it
We’ve all heard it takes 21 days to form a habit – both good and bad. After a few weeks of regular exercise, you will WANT to exercise, rather than just tolerating it. You will feel lethargic and bad if you don’t exercise because your body is getting used to the newfound energy and power. The best way to continue feeling strong and energetic is to continue to exercise!

Selecting the Right Doctor for You

Marcia H. Hickey Vice President, Strategic Initiatives & Hospital Administrator Hebrew Health Care, Inc.

Many of us have found ourselves in the situation of having to choose a new doctor.  Perhaps there’s been a change in our insurance carrier and we must select from a list of providers approved by the new company.  Other people have relocated and are starting from scratch with a new physician.  Some physicians even retire…how dare they!  Whatever the reason, here are a few items to consider when selecting the right doctor for you:

  • Try to get recommendations from your current physician or specialist, family, friends, and coworkers.  Ask what they like about their doctors.  Check the online rating systems that are available on the internet to see what other people say about their doctor ( or

  • Location is important.  How easy is it to get to the office?  Is there plenty of parking?  What about access to the building?  Is it in a safe area?  If you rely on public transportation, is there a stop near the office?  Is there a pharmacy for filling prescriptions and a lab for blood tests nearby?

  • Much of your contact will be with the office staff.  Are they friendly and courteous?  Do they show concern for your needs and well being?  Are they helpful?  Do they explain things clearly?

  • Availability is essential.  What are the office hours?  Do you need evening or weekend appointments?  How long should you expect to wait for a return phone call from the doctor or nurse?  Is there someone you can call when you have medical questions but don’t need to talk to the doctor?  Is this a large practice with multiple physicians and nurse practitioners?  Who provides coverage when your doctor is away?  What hospital does the doctor refer to?  What specialists does the doctor work with?  Who will coordinate your care if you have specialists providing some of your care?

  • Perhaps the most important consideration is how comfortable you are in talking to the doctor.  Is this a person with whom you will be able to have an open and honest discussion of your medical issues?  Can you ask questions easily?  Does the doctor listen carefully to your concerns?  Does the doctor routinely use other means of communication such as email, texting or a website to communicate?

These are just a few tips to get you started selecting a doctor.  You should feel comfortable asking questions and interviewing potential physicians.  It’s your health so take the time to find the right doctor for you.

Recovering from the Stress of the Holidays

Catherine P. Collette MSN RN, Agency Administrator Hebrew Health Visiting Nurses/ Hebrew Health Hospice

Another year has come to a close and with it the holiday season.  The last lingering parties and get-togethers will be coming to an end in the next week or so. With the end of the holiday season comes an end to the added stress they can create.

The whirl wind of parties and activities that are a part of this season are finally over and it feels good to know that life will be returning to normal. There is a strange duality to the season that we look forward to all of the festivities, however the stress of it all can really take its toll. For many of us there is still some clean up to be done. The decorations and lights and seasonal trimmings need to be returned to their storage place.

So now begins the time to recover, depending on how your season went there may be more or less to that.

Decorations need to come down.   Remember they don’t all have to come down in one day. If you don’t have the time in your schedule to do it all at once make a plan to put things a way slowly.

If you are like many of us the holiday season has put you off of your normal schedule. Schedules will be righted and normalcy will return. Take advantage of this return your routine to be sure to rest and recover. The break neck speed of the holidays has probably left many a little sleep deprived; so take the opportunity to schedule time off to reenergize.

The holidays are filled with their fair share of eating, drinking and being merry; however now is the time to return to better eating habits, without candy and other sweets lurking around every corner at the office or at home. If you are left with too many temptations after the holidays try to get rid of them. Exercise is the next step in the process of righting yourself after the holidays. During the frantic pace of the holidays working in regular work outs is difficult. Now that the pace will be slowing it is time to kick into gear on your exercise routines.  If you haven’t been exercising before now, it is a great New Year’s resolution to help improve your health and well being and decreasing your stress.

Take time away from electronic devices. Take a walk in the woods or around the block without music. Take time at home without the television or music and without being in front of a computer screen. This will give you an opportunity to focus on yourself.

Remember to breath. Practicing deep breathing is an easy way to help decrease your stress. Stretching and other gentle exercise that can be done while sitting; this is another way of decreasing your stress.

All these things may help you as you recover from the stress of the holidays.

How to Get and Stay Organized

By Linda McDonnell, Director of Quality Management

Have you seen those television shows about hoarders? Are you one of them? If so, you may be beyond my help! Here are some tips for the rest of you to help you get organized and, hopefully, stay that way.

Medicine Cabinet

  • Go through all your prescription and over the counter medications.

  • Put aside all the medications that have expired or you don’t take anymore.

  • Check with your local pharmacy for the best way to dispose of them.

  • Purchase a pill box that is large enough to fit all of your medications.

  • Pick one day a week when you fill the pill box. By doing it this way, you can concentrate and be accurate.

  • Put the bottles away in a cool, dry, secure area.

  • Keep the pill box nearby for ease in remembering to take them but out of reach of children.

Bill Drawer

  • Gather all your receipts, invoices and bills.

  • Most receipts can be discarded once you receive the next statement. Just verify they received your payment.

  • In a separate area, gather bank statements, saving statements, investment documents, and pay stubs.

  • Check with your financial advisor, but a good rule of thumb is to save weekly/monthly/quarterly statements and if they reconcile, keep only the last statement of the year.

  • Look for any free shredding events held by reputable companies or use a cross cut home shredder. Do not throw your important papers out without shredding them first!

  • Buy a package of hanging file folders and put them in a box. (You don’t need to buy a file cabinet.)

  • Label each folder and keep your ongoing receipts, bills and statements. (Utility, Taxes, Insurance, Medical, etc.)

  • Once a month, go through everything when you balance your checkbook and pay bills.


  • Keeping clothes that don’t fit or you don’t like clutters your closets and drawers.

  • Donate gently used clothing and get a tax deduction!

  • Discard stained, ripped items and worn shoes.

  • Separate seasonal clothes. If you don’t have extra space, put current items in the front of your closet or in the easier to reach drawers.

  • If you have trouble distinguishing black from navy, use color coded hangers or put navy on one side and black on the opposite. It will save you time and help you look coordinated.

  • When you purchase new items, try to buy things that can be interchanged to increase your wardrobe possibilities.

Book Shelves

  • If you love the feel of holding a book in your hands while reading, you probably have a lot of books hanging around.

  • Keep only special and collectors books on your shelves.

  • Donate others to your local library (so you can borrow them again) or to a used book sale (for others to enjoy).

  • Old outdated reference or text books can be recycled.

  • Use your local library to borrow books rather than spend the money. You’ll read more books way, too.

  • Buy books at used books sales, read them, then re-donate them next year.

Safe Travel Tips

By, Vinnie DeSanti, Assistant Operations Officer

During the cold winter months many of us travel to warmer weather or to visit family for the holidays. Whether you plan to fly or plan to drive, there are many travel safety tips that will help in getting you to your destination safely.

  • Make sure you are well rested before you begin your journey

  • If you are traveling with others, make sure they have had adequate sleep as well

  • Know your destination

  • Make sure your car is maintained

  • Make sure you fill up your gas tank

  • Make sure your oil is properly filled and you have extra in case of an emergency

  • Make sure you have an emergency kit which includes:

-First aid kit
-Spare tire
-Jumper cables
-Fire extinguisher
-Warning lights, hazard triangle, or flares
-Tire gauge
-Jack and lug wrench
-Gloves, hand cleaner, and clean rags
-Blanket and pillow

  • Taking breaks if you traveling long distances

  • Check the weather forecast

  • If traveling by air make sure you have all the proper papers

  • Leave plenty of time for security checks

  • Make sure you have extra money incase your luggage is overweight

  • If traveling with kids have enough snacks, games, movies, etc.