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Health & Fitness

Consider alternative gifts for your relatives this Christmas

The elderly need gifts that can improve their health. file photo | NMG
The elderly need gifts that can improve their health. file photo | NMG 

Christmas season has arrived again and for most Nairobi based folks it is an opportunity to slow down the busy work schedule and relax with family, albeit for a few days.

For some there is the mandatory pilgrimage to the countryside: a time to reconnect with kin after a year’s absence of “economic exile” in the towns.

As is custom, there are always gifts and presents to be carried and shared with family. Food and drinks to make merry will be presented in many shopping bags for those travelling upcountry.

Not to be forgotten are quality whiskies, brandies and clothes for loved ones. This year, however, perhaps you should reconsider the presents and gifts you give.

Merry making accompaniments are good but they last a few days and offer no lasting or practical improvements in the quality of lives of those you gift.

For the health conscious, here are a few items, especially for close elderly relatives. Our national health statistics indicate that many old relatives in rural areas experience unnecessary trips to public hospitals, enduring long queues.

With the elderly needing frequent checkups, gifts that can help them alleviate this would be more valuable to their health and lives. Top on my list is buying such relatives a basic health insurance cover.

Statistics are skewed in favour of urban dwellers in terms of possession of this increasingly invaluable resource.

A basic NHIF monthly package costs between Sh320- Sh500 for the elderly and unemployed.

Half a year’s worth of prepaid NHIF payments would cost you less than Sh3,000 and a full year’s premiums will go for Sh6,000.

There is also no need to pay for it upfront and one can pledge and commit to paying monthly, though this is cumbersome.

The plus side of such a gift is that by “gifting” one person the beneficiaries multiply. Thus, a grandfather adds the grandmother, the uncle adds the aunt, nieces and nephews to the benefit list.

The other gifts target those under treatment for chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension and arthritis. Such clinics are held once a week and are usually short-staffed.

Gifts like portable, easy to use, digital blood pressure machines can save them regular visits for this simple check up — especially those living far from hospitals.

Self-measuring glucose monitoring devices are excellent for diabetics.

For your relatives with arthritis, walking aids and pressure sensitive orthopaedic mattresses are a welcome improvement in the quality of their lives.

Stroke patients require regular physiotherapy and having at-home exercise and rehabilitation equipment also goes a long way. Such items are good substitutes for the whiskies and alcohol some elderly relatives crave.

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