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Live Alone & Thrive

By Gwenn Voelckers

Practical tips, advice and hope for those who live alone

‘Tis the Season: Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Those Who Live Alone


his column is for all of you who have friends or family members who live alone. While the holidays can be a joyous time filled with laughter, cheer and gift giving, this time of year can also generate feelings of loneliness and anxiety. In my experience, those on their own may be especially susceptible to the “holiday blues.” What can you do to add a little “merry” to the holidays for those who live alone? You can give the gift of time together — probably the most welcome and cherished gift of all. You can also give a thoughtful gift to lift a spirit, safeguard a loved one and warm a heart. Below, I’ve compiled a list of gift ideas for you. Some are practical, others personal, all are designed to put a smile on the face of someone who lives alone:

For fun

• An invitation to join you on New Year’s Eve. This can be a challenging night for those who are newly divorced or widowed. I popped the cork with my sister and her husband after my divorce and was deeply grateful for their invitation to spend the evening together. It got my new year off to a great start. • Tickets or gift

certificates to movies, concerts, art openings or the theater. Include an invitation: “Be my guest.” And insist on doing the driving. • Dancing, cooking or art/craft classes. Do you have a single friend with two left feet? Dancing lessons might be in order. A widowed father who eats supper directly from the container? Consider a cooking class. Or a divorced sister who’s been looking for a creative outlet? A workshop in jewelry-making might delight her. There are so many possibilities!

For safety

• An AAA membership. I don’t leave home without it. A flat tire, an empty tank, a lost key — I’ve been there! This is a gift worth its weight in gold. • Handy tools for emergencies or life’s unexpected moments. Consider a compact no-battery wind-up LED flashlight with a hand crank. This is one of my prized possessions. How about a Swiss Army knife, complete with screwdrivers, scissors, toothpick, and tweezers? It even comes with a nail file and a highly coveted corkscrew. Or, consider a motion-sensor that activates a chime or alarm when a visitor (or new suitor?) arrives. Those of us who live alone need to be prepared for whatever life offers up. • A gift certificate for car washes.

Healthful Holiday Gifts By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


how how much you care this year by treating your friends and family to healthful gifts. Christine Brogan Huber makes a lot of gift baskets for customers at Lori’s Natural Foods in Rochester. “I may do an antioxidant gift basket, including pomegranate,” she said. “Or I do another to ‘beat the flu and cold season’ with Echinacea tea and elderberry syrup.” She suggests aromatherapy bath sales or essential oils to promote relaxation, since “stress is such a big factor in health. Dead sea salts help the skin and help the body to balance and be more calm.” Baskets featuring local or organPage 8

ic teas are also a big hit, along with local, raw honey. “I pick out one of our relaxing CDs and tuck that in, too. That’s a nice combo,” Brogan Huber said. Because eating a good breakfast helps people resist overeating or making poor food choices later, a breakfast basket can also promote good health. Brogan Huber makes up breakfast baskets with organic pancake mixes, a bag of local coffee blends, local maple syrups and a locally-made granola. The “raw” gift basket includes items such as raw chocolate, dehydrated kale chips and nut mix. “We sold a ton of those last year,”

While not necessarily a “safety gift,” I always feel better when my car is clean (and that can’t help but make me safer on the road). Who doesn’t enjoy a clean, sparkling car? Choose a car wash near your recipient’s home or work place.

For pampering

• An opportunity to be “treated like royalty.” How many of your friends who live alone indulge themselves in luxurious services? My guess is not many, if they’re like me. Who has the time or money? But that’s what makes this the perfect gift! Why not surprise her with a spa certificate for a massage, facial, manicure or pedicure? Or make his day with a certificate for a gentleman’s facial or deep tissue/sports massage. • For women in particular who live alone — fresh flowers delivered. Do you know a single woman who lives by herself? When’s the last time she got flowers? It’s probably been years . . . don’t I know it. So, delight her with a bouquet of roses or tulips — preferably yellow, a color known to evoke the feelings of warmth and happiness associated with friendship. • And speaking of deliveries, check out gift-of-the-month clubs. Coming home alone at any time of

Brogan Huber said. “They’re good gifts for the host or hostess.” While you may think giving healthful gifts a poor choice for people on your list who practice few healthful habits, “it may introduce people to something they may not be looking for,” Brogan Huber said. “Once you try them, you realize you’ve been missing out.” A gift card to a natural food store, community supported agriculture program or fitness store may help encourage healthful habits. Brianna Cooper, an athletic trainer with Finger Lakes Health, recommends giving a physical exercise ball. “They’re super versatile for working out and you can use it as a chair if you sit awhile because it engages the core,” she said. “It lets you work your core, even if you sit in an office all day.” Exercise care when considering

IN GOOD HEALTH – Rochester / Genesee Valley Healthcare Newspaper • December 2015

year can feel a little empty, but it can really feel lonely during the holidays. Discovering a package on the doorstep can change everything. Go online and check out gourmet gifts and food clubs. You won’t believe the variety of delicious items that can be delivered on a monthly basis: chocolate, hot sauce, cheese, tea, cigars, wine, beer, pastas, olive oil, cookies, popcorn, pancakes, you name it. I love this idea so much, I might treat myself.

For inspiration

• A gift of charity. Making a donation in someone’s name is a gift you can both feel good about. Think about your friend or family member who lives alone. What do they care about? Choose an organization that supports his or her values. • An invitation to join you in a volunteer activity. Helping others is a great holiday tradition. Early on in my solo journey, a dear friend invited me to join her for a holiday gift-wrapping event to support the Humane Society. It felt wonderful to be out of the house and surrounded by other volunteers and staff who embraced the spirit of giving. • A subscription to “In Good Health” and/or “55 Plus” produced by editor and publisher Wagner Dotto. Both periodicals are filled with inspirational articles and trusted health information. Consider gift subscriptions for your friends and family members who live alone. Chances are good your holidays and theirs will be healthier and happier for it. Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Live Alone and Thrive, empowerment workshops for women held throughout the year in Mendon, New York. For information about her upcoming workshops or to invite Gwenn to speak, call her at 585-624-7887, email her at

giving gifts directly related to weight loss because the recipient may think your present insinuates you disapprove of their weight. Instead, focus on positive aspects of wellness, such as equipment and products that promote health and fitness instead of specific goals such as weight loss. Think about the recipient’s current activities. Walkers may enjoy a FitBit to track steps; however, the device can also track calories, sleep and stress levels. A friend who participates in an exercise class may enjoy a new water bottle, mat, and socks. But giving these to someone who doesn’t work out regularly may appear judgmental. Give gifts such as a gym membership only if the person has explicitly stated the desire for such, especially since it may not be refundable.

Profile for In Good Health: Rochester's Healthcare Newspaper

Gv igh 124 dec15  

Gv igh 124 dec15  


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