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It's the gift that keeps on giving - the gift of health

December 10, 2013

Media Contact: Keith.O’, 413-794-7656

SPRINGFIELD - What gift can you get for someone who appears to have everything or wants nothing?

Why not give them something different and meaningful this holiday season that will show them that you care and want them around for a long time – like a thoughtful gift of health and happiness?

Whether shopping for the health and fitness buff on your list, or trying to encourage someone to follow a healthier lifestyle, there are gifts aplenty to maintain good health or to get healthier as the New Year approaches.

To help make your holiday gift buying a little easier for those special people on your list, several Baystate Health caregivers shared their thoughts on what healthy gifts they might consider giving this year, or might like to receive themselves.


Dr. Kevin Moriarty, chief, Pediatric Surgery at Baystate Children’s Hospital – bike helmet, phone application for tracking exercise, healthy cookbook, a dog to walk, workout CDs, gift certificate for yoga classes or a massage.

Paula Serafino-Cross, MS, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian in Food and Nutrition Services at Baystate Medical Center – headphones for an MP3 player such as an iPod to be used for running or walking, Fitbit, water bottle, fruit basket, gift certificate to your local produce store, fitness clothing for running or walking, cases of clementines, oranges or grapefruits.

Dr. Chrystal Wittcopp of Baystate General Pediatrics, Baystate Children’s Hospital – kids cookbook, rollerblades, jump rope, outdoor basketball hoop, interactive video games like Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect, membership at a local museum,
camping equipment, tickets to a play to encourage the arts, fitness band to track your physical activity, Community Membership to CISA supporting local farms.

Dr. Wilson Mertens, medical director, Cancer Services, Baystate Regional Cancer Program at Baystate Health – bicycle or indoor treadmill, a good pair of walking shoes
or hiking boots accompanied by a map of the trails throughout Western Massachusetts,
swimming trunks and a gym membership, pill box for the elderly and sight-impaired to help avoid medication complications, hand’s free setup for cell phone in the car.

Dr. Maura Brennan, interim director, Division of Geriatrics, Palliative Care and Post-Acute Medicine at Baystate Medical Center suggested healthy gifts for older people at different stages of health and function. She noted for some it will be wise to get their physician’s input before gifting:

- For healthy, vigorous elders with no limitations physically or mentally: gift membership to a gym that provides initial orientation to equipment and services and can adapt routines for older adults; gift membership to Tai Chi classes, ballroom dancing or Yoga, which can all improve balance and flexibility; and the gift of classes in a new area of interest to keep the mind active, such as crafts, a new language, piano or cooking lessons.

- For an elder with some physical limitations or early memory loss, who can still live independently: membership in a local special interest club to help keep them social, such as a dominoes group, senior chair exercises, bingo, depending on what the person likes; vouchers for transportation and errands around the house; arranging for a “lifeline” for a person who may be at risk of falls.

- For an elder with major limitations in terms of his or her ability to move around or who is memory impaired enough to require consistent support and supervision: homemaker or companion service; home-delivered meals; enrollment in a senior day program.


“The holiday season is the perfect time to show the people in your life how much they mean to you. Make this the season that you focus on connecting with loved ones on a deeper level,” said Lisa Bowler, manager, Wellness and Worklife Programs at Baystate Health. She suggests:

- Giving the gift of time: spend time doing something fun or even spontaneous that someone would enjoy. Take part in one of their hobbies, or coordinate a trip to a new town and lunch for the day, go ice skating, or take in a holiday show. For kids, a book, game or craft provides an opportunity to spend time together. Give a “family time” gift of roller skating, movie tickets, miniature golf, or a family board game.

- Easing the burden for someone: free up a parent’s hectic schedule by offering to take care of the kids for an afternoon or evening. If someone is struggling financially, pay a utility bill or give a gift card for groceries, gasoline or a restaurant.

- Capturing a fun memory you had together: frame a single photo or put together a small photo album. In this day and age, with all our photos on our phones, a tangible photo can be a touching and memorable gift.


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