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What Do Seniors Want?

What do seniors want? Not surprisingly, there are probably as many answers to that question as there are types of people. But even though there is no magic answer, there are a number of ideas that can help you find the right gift for that special senior in your life.
First, a few guiding principles that should help point you in the right direction:

  • Know your senior: What is their living situation (e.g. do they live independently, are they in assisted living or memory care?) Do they have any health issues to consider such as diabetes, impaired vision or hearing, mobility issues, etc.?

  • Know their needs: Many older adults have been frugal all of their lives and may have worn out items that are often used. Linens such as bath towels, sheets and blankets, dish towels, etc. are good items to update and replace. Do they need anything new for the kitchen like utensils, pans, a coffee pot or a toaster? Other gifts that might be appreciated can be mundane things as socks, underwear, robes, slippers, and pajamas as well. A new shirt, sweater or piece of jewelry can help your loved one spruce up for the holidays and make them feel special.

  • Know their likes: Do they have a favorite color, fragrance, author, music, etc. Do they have a hobby, use a computer, play a sport, like puzzles and games, go to movies, eat out, etc.? Gift cards to restaurants movie theaters, or stores where they tend to shop can also be welcome gifts and are especially good for the senior “who has everything.”

Many people are hesitant to tell you what they really want, so it is important to be observant and a little creative to come up with a gift that will be useful and meaningful. This is true at any age! It can be a little harder coming up with ideas for seniors, as many of them seem to have everything and if they want something many just go out and buy it. I’ve asked some of the seniors I know what they would recommend as gifts for seniors and here are a few of their ideas:

  • Time with my children and/or grandchildren. One at a time, so we can spend some quality time together.
  • An experience. This could be lots of things, depending on your budget such as tickets to a play or concert, sporting event, fishing outing, weekend getaway, etc.
  • Gift cards to restaurants, movie theaters, favorite stores, beauty salon, massage, etc.
  • A “certificate” to help with household chores and repairs.
  • A “certificate” to shop for and prepare a special dinner for your special senior.
  • Things that are consumable such as candy, fragrances, body lotion, special soaps, food items, a good bottle of wine, and chocolates to get your ideas started!
  • Books, magazine and/or newspaper subscriptions.
  • A calendar with family photos, framed photos of children, grandchildren, etc.

The thing is that when you start thinking about it, there are really a lot of good ideas you can come up with for your special senior. And I would suggest that this system can also work for seniors who need to buy gifts for their families and friends. So, if you are like me and haven’t finished your shopping yet, there is still time for coming up with great gifts for the special people in our life!

Holly Hansen, Senior Partner
Brilliant Moves –

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at

Changing Seasons = Changing Routines

Just when you were indulging in fruits and vegetables fresh from the gardens your thoughts begin to lean towards comfort foods, stews and soups.

Just when you built a routine of walking around the lake, block or apartment building your thoughts wander towards fireplaces, hot chocolate and a good book.

Just when you finally fit into those favorite blue shorts your thoughts turn to towards big sweaters and comfortable baggy pants.

But do we have to give up those healthy habits we formed during the summer just because it is getting cold outside? Uh oh, be alert my dear friends. History has told us that when we begin to toss out the awareness we gained of what we are eating, wearing and how we are moving that body in the summer months, we begin to change our minds towards cover up, comfort, and hibernating bear-like behavior.

Be purposeful as you make changes to accommodate fall weather. Fall is a great time to go through recipes and organize an exchange. Following nutritional suggestions of low fat and low salt meals browse your favorites to come up with five you would like to share with others. You can see the importance of growing your group! Everyone brings five recipes and before you know it you have a healthy recipe book with some of your favorites and some new ones to try!
TIP ALERT: Keep frozen veggies in your freezer to add to those soups to boost the nutrition and give your soups a little more volume. If you don’t care for so many veggies in your soups and stews you can always puree them for the benefits.

Moving that body might seem a little more complicated in the cooler months but that is the best time to grab a buddy and go for a walk. Many people don’t do well in the summer heat so encourage someone to take up your habit in the brisk fall air or indoors at a mall. Look in the paper or local offerings and try out a new strength training class. Research shows that strength training keeps depression away! What about that yoga, Tai Chi or Pilates class you have always thought sounded interesting? This is a great transition time to give it a whirl.
TIP ALERT: Create your own human checkerboard or chess game-think while you move.

If you are looking for new ways to get out and discover your community this fall set up a sightseeing adventure to the zoo, Fort Snelling, discovering of neighboring parks for an investigative walk. Organize a leaf find, bird watch or fall flowers around the park.

Keep in mind that working out and watching how you change your daily intake does matter through the changing of the seasons. After all we are not bears, so planning on pulling up those comfy pants and pulling that forgiving sweater over our head does not help our blood pressure, heart rate or overall health.

While the seasons change our focus on our wellness should not. Go ahead and enjoy the temperature change, arrival of fall colors and yes, a change in what we wear. But stay ever mindful of how you take care of your body, after all it is the only one you get. I wish you the very best of the third season of the year!

Terri Mattson
Beginning Today Lifestyle Wellness

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at

Don’t Just Downsize – RIGHT SIZE!

Pretty much everyone is familiar with the term “Downsizing.” What this can mean to a lot of older adults is a sad parting with things they have used and loved for many years, and as a result, downsizing can have a negative connotation. Instead of just experiencing loss as you clear out your home of many years in preparation to move to something smaller, think about “Rightsizing” instead.

So what is Rightsizing and how is it different from Downsizing? Rightsizing is a shift in perspective from Downsizing and puts the focus on what you need in your new home rather than what you are leaving behind in your old home. In other words, it looks forward rather than only backward. It is an approach that can help bring joy and anticipation to change rather than only feeling a sense of loss. Some basic concepts of Rightsizing are noted below:

• Focus on the furniture that will work in your new home: consider size and function.
• Use furniture and artwork in new ways and/or different rooms.
• Buy something new for your new home such as a kitchen or dining table that is smaller in scale better suited to your new space.
• Perk up an old lamp with a new lampshade.
• Add some color to you bathroom and/or bedroom with new towels, shower curtain and/or a new bedspread.
• Make a scrapbook of family photos that you don’t have space to hang.
• Edit your kitchen – how many sets of china, glassware, silverware, pans, etc. do you really need? Keep the things you use and love the most.
• Have a bunch of mismatched glasses or dishes that have seen better days? Get something new and treat yourself.
• Keep clothes and shoes in good condition that fit you, that you like, and that you wear.

While Rightsizing can involve buying a few new things, this does not have to be expensive. Let your family and friends know what you would like. Buy things on sale. Check out consignment stores, thrift stores, antique stores, yard sales, etc. Rightsizing might sound like it is the opposite of downsizing, but it is not. It does include letting go of old things that you have accumulated over your lifetime. Thank these belongings for the pleasure and service they have given you, and let them go on to be of use to someone else. This could be a family member, a friend, or a complete stranger who gets something of yours through your charitable donation. This is truly a wonderful and satisfying way to help people who need things that you no longer need or use.

Another aspect of Rightsizing is that it can be used to organize your home. Kitchens, bathrooms and closets are the areas to focus on here. There are a number of containers, trays, shelf extenders, bins, etc. that can help organize and maximize the usefulness of a variety of spaces in your new home. Repurpose an old basket a bin, a piece of plastic ware. Maybe something you used in the office would work well in a kitchen or bathroom for organizing miscellaneous items. Think about old things in a new way. Check out the variety of styles and sizes of silverware, utensil and other containers that are available. A final note to say about Rightsizing is that it can bring some fun, creativity, and joy into a moving process that is otherwise stressful.

Holly Hansen, Partner
Brilliant Moves
612-605-7303 -

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at

Get Your Affairs in Order

It’s an old black and white film. The doctor, in a business suit, sits behind a desk and delivers the line, “You need to get your affairs in order.” Back then it was an aphorism -- a way not to say, “You have cancer.” But the words have meaning for us at all stages of our lives. Whether in our 20s or our 80s, we need to get our affairs in order. The documents and the plans for when we are gone are a gift to ourselves and to our loved ones.

In our 20s we may just need to find a job and develop a sound credit rating. A few years later, it’s settling down, buying a house, perhaps raising a family and managing what can be a rather chaotic transition in our lives. But at a certain age, it’s not just about planning to live, it’s about planning for those who will live after us. It’s not just about wills and related documents. It’s about making our lives successful while we are here and providing for our loved ones after we are gone.

Simplify your life! A wise man once said, “You don’t own things, things own you.” Sort, organize and give away, throw out, donate, or recycle what is not used or needed. Clothes you haven’t worn in two years, out they go! Got furniture in the basement, attic or wherever that is old and unused? Someone else can find a use for it. Piles of books you’ll never read, or read again - mementos that mean nothing to you, and less than nothing to your heirs, tools unused for years? Get them to someone who will get good use out of them.

Simplify your financial affairs. If it’s hard to figure out what’s going on with one brokerage account, do you really need three? And if you have two or three bank accounts in different places, is there a purpose? If so, keep them. If not, consolidate and keep the best one. Review expenses for things you don’t use, like the top tier cable, when you don’t watch the premium channels, or an unused health club membership. And perhaps the biggest gift to yourself and loved ones is to simplify your business affairs if you still have business interests. For lingering disputes with partners in a real estate or business investment, someone will have to sort it out; better you take care of it than leaving it to your spouse or children to resolve.

What are you good at? What do you love to do? What fuels your passion? Getting your affairs in order is about finding meaning and purpose for our lives and being grateful for what we, or friends and family do to bring happiness and joy to ourselves and others.

Make or review your will. Check to see if your will still does what you want. And make sure you have a health care directive and some form of power of attorney to allow medical and financial decisions to be made for you when you can’t make them for yourself. Check that beneficiary designation (or other transfer on death provisions) for life insurance, bank and brokerage accounts are set up to do what you currently wish. And for those whose spouse has passed on, consider looking again at your estate plan. You may want to check and see if a few simple actions can avoid probate. Plan your funeral. What do you want? Consider preplanning and pre-paying the funeral you want either directly or through insurance.

Are your affairs in order? That doesn’t mean you are preparing for death, but rather that you are prepared to enjoy life no matter your age. Take comfort in knowing that your family will not have additional financial and legal stresses when you are no longer here. Every day do a little dance, give a little love and get on with life. That’s the best part of getting our affairs in order!

Richard Jensen is an attorney who does estate planning (952) 944-0406, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at

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