Gift Ideas for Someone Who Is Sick

Gift ideas for someone who is sick

Gifts that Bring Comfort to a Sick Person

It can be difficult to buy a gift that brings comfort to someone who is sick.  I have been on both sides of the sick role, as patient and nurse. While it is common to buy the usual chocolates and flowers, I will suggest alternatives that show you have put a little thought into the gift.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure.

Edible Gifts

Hospitalised people usually love a gift of their favourite food and drink.  Please check with the hospital first. Some hospitals have policies that ban home cooked food, or the patient may be on a restricted diet.  

Peppermint tea is very good for abdominal pain and is allowed on most diets.  Camomile tea may be used to aid sleep.  Most hospitals only supply black tea and coffee, and cows milk. If there is any other favourite beverage this usually goes down well.  Highly carbonated drinks are not a good idea for anyone who has had abdominal surgery as the gas can cause bloating and abdominal pain.

Fresh fruit is preferable to sweets and chocolates.  It is better for digestion and healthier.  Plain biscuits may be appreciated if the recipient is on a bland diet or has a lot of nausea.  Home made clear broth is usually allowed even on the strictest diet.  Other home made pureed soups are great because they are nutritious without being difficult to eat.

For people with a poor appetite, or those recovering from surgery or an injury, high protein snacks and drinks help with healing.

Gift Ideas for Someone Who is Sick.  A collage of suggested gifts - A soft blanket, reading material, peppermint tea, fruit, warm socks, books and magazines
Gift Ideas for Someone Who Is Sick

Gifts that bring Comfort

My boomerang pillow has been a vital comfort whenever I have been in hospital. Hospital pillows aren’t very soft, and a boomerang pillow helps me position myself comfortably.

A soft, warm blanket helps with comfort as well.  Because hospital rooms can be drafty, a small blanket or shawl can help to keep their shoulders warm when they are sitting out of bed, or can wrap around their legs.

Some people really feel the heat so a small portable fan can be a welcome relief.

A wheat bag or heat pad alleviates pain.  Check that the hospital policy allows it, and avoid using heat packs for elderly people or those with altered conscious levels as they can cause burns.

Wearable Gifts

Slippers should be chosen for safety as well as comfort.  Make sure they fit correctly and avoid scuffs for older people.  Badly fitting slippers account for many falls in elderly people.  See my post, Gift Guide for the Older Gentleman in Your Life for more suggestions on gifts for elderly people.

Pyjamas, a dressing gown and socks are nice gifts for someone who is sick.  Offering to do their washing is a very thoughtful suggestion.  

Other Gift Suggestions

Other gift ideas for someone who is sick include:

  • Things to while away the hours, e.g. packs of cards, puzzle books, magazines, books, games, DVDs or hand held games.
  • Toiletries, especially toothpaste and toothbrush, comb, body wash.
  • Offer to help with chores while they are recovering.  For those on restricted movement, offering to walk their dog or pick up some groceries would help.
  • Sometimes just being there to listen can be appreciated.  Being unwell, whether it is an acute illness, injury or surgery, or a chronic illness, can leave someone isolated and lonely.  Being a good listener can be more important than any gift.

I hope you found these gift ideas for someone who is sick useful.  If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy:

For all your wellness products, buy from The Well Store, Australia.  

Purchase gift hampers from Gifts Australia.

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Christmas Shopping During a Pandemic

Christmas shopping in a pandemic

The Added Stress to pre-Christmas Preparations

Christmas shopping has taken on a new focus this year.  Normally the shops are packed leading up to the big day but this year the pandemic has added a level of anxiety to this already stressful period.  Now we have social distancing to consider, with limits to the number of shoppers allowed in at one time.  Christmas shopping during a pandemic is even more stressful than it normally is.

Many people aim to avoid the shops for fear of getting sick, especially if they are in a high risk category.  Online shopping is a growing sector of the market as shoppers strive to avoid the crowds.  It is best to purchase as early as possible because delivery may be delayed due to demand this year.

Christmas gifts under a decorated Christmas tree.  Online shopping is the answer to Christmas Shopping during a pandemic.
Christmas gifts under a decorated Christmas tree

Christmas Shopping During a Pandemic Is Stressful  

Personally I find Christmas shopping to be very stressful at the best of times.  The noise level gets on my nerves, with annoying sound tracks (never the nice versions of favourite Christmas carols) competing with screaming kids.  The pressure to buy the perfect gift is very high.  I had a full blown panic attack in the toy aisle one year.

Over the years my Christmas list has become shorter and shorter as the kids grow up and the adults agree to not buy presents for each other.  I try to do my Christmas shopping very early in the year to avoid the rush.  Most of my presents are purchased through online shopping this year.  Online shopping is my answer to avoiding the crowds and lower my stress levels. This post aims to introduce a few unique online sources of gifts.

Avoiding the Crowds with Online Shopping

I’m an affiliate for the following companies which means I will earn a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link.  Please see my full disclosure.

There are always a few people that are hard to buy for.  They’re the ones who are picky, or they have everything.  We’ve resorted to buying gift vouchers in the past but I definitely prefer to buy something meaningful.  

Christmas Shopping in a Pandemic - Online shopping is the answer to avoiding Christmas stress.  Photo of a woman using a laptop while resting.
Christmas Shopping in a Pandemic – Online shopping is the answer to avoiding Christmas stress.

Gifts Australia

If you are scratching your head trying to find a unique present, take a look at the Gifts Australia website.  They have some wonderful gifts on their site.  You can search for presents according to who will be the recipient, the price range and the occasion.  They offer free delivery over $99 within Australia, free gift wrapping and a gift card.  I love their hampers as they are full of quality goods and beautifully presented.

The Well Store

If someone on your list is health conscious, or vegan, or loves environmentally friendly products, have a look at The Well Store.  Their range is extensive so you are sure to find a unique gift.  Many people are making these lifestyle choices so buying them a thoughtful gift will be much appreciated. All of the products sold by The Well Store are non-toxic, natural, organic and cruelty free. The Well Store offers free delivery within Australia for purchases over $30, and Internationally for purchases over $50.

HideAWAY Bath and Body

Beautiful skin care, body and bath products can be purchased for someone special at HideAWAY.  This is a local company who handcraft their skin care range from locally sourced natural ingredients.  With names like Black Sugar, Frangipani Dream and Fantasea, their unique fragrances are very enticing.  A lovely gift from their range would be perfect for someone who appreciates prioritising time for self care. HideAWAY offers free shipping for purchases over $120.

Amazon

If you live further afield, you may prefer to do your online shopping from Amazon.  Amazon’s website showcases gift ideas for all price ranges and gift categories. I’m waiting impatiently for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to complete my Christmas shopping for the year.  Black Friday is November 27 while Cyber Monday is 30 November.  These sales are eagerly anticipated as the discounts are huge.  

More Ideas to Help With Your Christmas Shopping

I have written two previous articles which you may like to read:  Gifts that Inspire a Healthy Lifestyle and Gift Guide for the Older Gentleman in Your Life.  I also have a free eBook “Survival Guide for the Holiday Season”.  It helps you reduce your stress and keep on track with your healthy lifestyle during this busy season. Christmas shopping during a pandemic doesn’t need to leave you stressed and run down.

How about you – do you love Christmas shopping or does it stress you out?  Are you someone who buys everything early, or do you leave it til the last minute?  I’d love to read your thoughts on this.

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The Best Anti-aging Skin Care Products

The best anti-aging skin care products

The Anti-aging Products that I Recommend

My previous post Caring For Your Skin as You Age discussed how our skin ages, and what anti-aging product categories you can use to care for your skin.  I am now going to tell you what I recommend to be the best anti-aging skin care products based on my own experience.  Please note, I am not a beauty therapist, nor am I an expert in this area.  However, I am a Registered Nurse and the products I use contain the ingredients that are known to assist in the anti-aging process.

My budget is fairly low.  I tend to use brands that are available at the discount pharmacy or supermarket.  I have tried many brands over the years, but I have found I can generally rely on a few brands because they consistently produce positive results in my skin.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure. I have links to Amazon in this article – the highlighted clickable links in text are to Amazon Australia, while the picture links are to Amazon US.  

Anti-aging Skin Care Routine

Cleanser

My skin is sensitive, so I use an NEUTROGENA Extra Gentle Cleanser 200mL""” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener sponsored nofollow”>Extra Gentle Cleanser by Neutrogena.  It is fragrance-free and doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight or dry.  This cleanser is non-soap so it helps to moisturise my skin without clogging the pores.  It has been tested by dermatologists and is safe for allergy prone skin like mine.

Serum

I am very new to using a serum because the price of serums was outside my budget.  However I found the Ordinary brand for an incredibly cheap price at the discount pharmacy.  It contains the same active ingredients as other more expensive brands (hyaluronic Acid 2%) and is vegan and ethically produced.  

I am stunned at how much this has improved my skin.  I had open pores, dry scaly areas, lines particularly around my eyes and sunspots.  All areas of my face improved within a few days.  It acts as a chemical exfoliant, so I no longer use harsh physical exfoliants such as scrubs.  For this reason, this serum is the one of the best anti-aging skin care products that I have used.

Moisturiser

At present I am using a wonderful product that I bought in Japan.  I am unable to source it here in Australia so I will use my favourite product by L’Oreal when it runs out.  L’Oreal is a brand I trust.  Their products are consistently of high quality.  I love the fact that they formulate products for your age group to target specific skin concerns common among all of us.  The Age Perfect day cream is my favourite in this range.

The Classic SPF15 Day Cream contains sunscreen which is an important factor for me.  If I can prevent more age spots from developing on my skin I would be very relieved.  It always leaves my skin feeling hydrated without a greasy residue.

Sunscreen

My favourite sunscreen brands are Cancer Council and Neutrogena.  Their sunscreens are of the highest quality and very reliable.  I need to be particularly sun smart as there have been three close members of my family diagnosed with a melanoma, including my son.

My favourite sunscreen for my face is Cancer Council’s Foundation.  It doesn’t leave my face greasy, and contains just enough tint to use like other foundations.  I have never been sunburnt while using products by Cancer Council or Neutrogena.  

If I am going to be in full sunlight for an extended period of time I apply a cream sunscreen and then follow it up with Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist.  This ensures I haven’t missed any areas.  I also wear a hat and try to avoid the sun between 10am and 2pm.

The Anti-Aging Skin Care Products That I Recommend.  From Left to Right - Cancer Council Foundation, Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser, The Ordinary Serum, LÓreal Age Perfect Night Cream, Garnier Skin Active Nutri Bomb Face Mask, Garnier Skin Active Micellar Cleansing Water, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist
The Anti-Aging Skin Care Products That I Recommend. From Left to Right – Cancer Council Foundation, Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser, The Ordinary Serum, LÓreal Age Perfect Night Cream, Garnier Skin Active Nutri Bomb Face Mask, Garnier Skin Active Micellar Cleansing Water, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist

Makeup Remover

I swear by Garnier’s Skin Active Micellar Cleansing Water.  Any other products sting my skin and make my eyes inflamed and red.  You can use this all over for face as it is very mild, and it is also able to remove eye makeup.  Because I can use it to cleanse my whole face it saves time which is important to me.  I tend to neglect this step if it takes too long, so this product is perfect.

Night Cream

My night cream is L’Oreal’s Age Perfect night cream.  This gives my skin that added moisturiser at night, allowing it to be restored and refreshed.  It reduces the appearance of age spots.  I can use it close to my eyes without it feeling too heavy on the more sensitive areas of my face.

Face Mask

Once a week I use a Garnier face mask.  I choose which to use from their wide range of masks, depending on how my skin is that week.  This week’s mask was chosen for it’s hydrating properties.

Skin care is important as we age because our skin begins to show the affects of sun damage and loss of tone.  I took my skin for granted when I was younger which I really regret now.  The products that I have recommended have helped me to improve my skin texture and tone.  They can’t perform miracles but they can help my skin to be the best it can be at my stage of life.

Please let me know if there are any products you swear by.  I’m always keen to try new skin products if they are suitable for sensitive skin and not too expensive.

If you enjoyed this post, you may like the following:

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Amazon Prime Day Sale is on now

Amazon Prime Day Sale is On Now

Amazon Prime Day is on the 13th October this year rather than July. This means you can get exclusive deals right when you need them – before the busiest shopping time of the year. Prime Day is a two day sales event exclusively for Amazon Prime members. There are already early deals online!

This post may include affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure.

The Amazon Prime Day Sale

To access the exclusive sale, you need to be an Amazon Prime member. You can sign up for a one month trial of Amazon Prime for free, and you will only be charged if you don’t cancel your membership within the month. I have a feeling you may want to keep your membership because it has such amazing benefits, including:

  • Free delivery – unlimited shipping on millions of items (this depends on where you live and the item – see the Terms and Conditions on the Amazon site)
  • Award winning movies and TV shows. Watch exclusive content like Amazon originals
  • Over 2 million songs ad-free
  • Original Audio series from Audible

Why I use Amazon Prime

Prior to joining Amazon Prime I was paying nearly $20 for Netflix, $18 for Spotify and $13.99 for Kindle Unlimited per month. Now I can get all that plus more for $12.99 with Amazon Prime! (Note I still pay a small amount for my Kindle books). The movies and TV shows alone are worth joining up. I will be doing most of my Christmas shopping online this year and the vast choice on Amazon Shopping means I won’t have to buy from lots of different outlets.

Watch this Space for Deals

From now until the end of the Amazon Prime Day sale I will be posting deals as they come up. These will be selected for my readers based on what I know you will love. I am looking mainly at health products, fitness gear, walking shoes and clothes, home beauty & spa products, eco friendly items and books. Watch my social media profiles for more.

For example, here are some deals you can buy straight away:

This Kindle e-Reader Bundle is $169.97, down from $189.97. My price as an Amazon Prime member is $119.97. There are thousands of items with similar savings to this.

These walking shoes are a great price even with the shipping cost to Australia.

Such a bargain for a fitness tracker.

Keep watching this space for more deals as I see them. Some deals will only be available for a short time, but undoubtedly you will be able to buy a similar item for a great price if you miss out.

Don’t forget, the main sale is on the 13th and 14th October. Join up for a free 30 day trial with Amazon Prime to access the sale. Watch this page for great deals as I find them.

Amazon Prime’s Australian Sale has already started!

Here are the best deals I could find:

Fitbit Versa 2 $198.00, down from $299.95

Kindle eReader $99, save $40

Set of resistance bands $49.95, save $10

Nike shoes and clothing from $20.32

Sketchers shoes from $43.17 – $95.00

I will keep an eye out for more deals and add them as I see them.

Best Deals on Amazon US site

Up to 40% off all Adidas clothing, footwear and accessories

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Reduce Your Kitchen Waste – Save Money & Lower Your Carbon Footprint

Reduce Your Kitchen Waste

Easy ways to be less wasteful in the kitchen 

It makes sense to reduce your kitchen waste as it saves money and is better for the environment.   This article will discuss some easy ways that you can be less wasteful in your kitchen, and ways you can lower your carbon footprint using eco-friendly alternatives.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure.

Eco-Friendly Materials

Just by swapping to eco-friendly products you can effectively reduce kitchen waste. Look for items made from the following materials:

  • Hemp
  • Jute
  • Organic Cotton
  • Recycled Glass
  • Bamboo
  • Bioplastic compostable products made from Sugar cane, corn or potato starch 
  • Wood especially teak, or recycled wood
  • Stainless steel or aluminium
  • Recycled rubber
  • Clay
  • Recycled paper
  • Coconut husks/fibre
  • Linen made from flax
  • Cork
  • Soybean fabric
  • Recycled Polyester Plastic (PET)
  • Wool felt, or reclaimed wool

For further information, read this article from Household Wonders.

Reduce Your Kitchen Waste – Only buy what you need

I discussed this in my article How to Eat a Healthy Diet On a Budget.   By only buying what you need, you can reduce food waste.  Use a list when you shop, only bulk buy if you know you will consume it by the expiry date, and shop at wholefood stores where you can buy ingredients by weight. Avoid products with a lot of packaging, for example fruit or vegetables with plastic wrapping and trays. I cringe every time I see the unnecessary packaging in supermarkets. Buying from markets can be far better for the environment and the produce will be much fresher.

Compost your food waste 

You can reduce your carbon footprint by composting your food waste at home.  Home composting saves your waste ending up in landfill.   Landfills are responsible for much of the methane gas, a byproduct of composting organic material.  Landfill gas, a combination of methane and carbon dioxide, is responsible for much of the greenhouse gas emissions.

Food scraps can be composted and used to fertilise your garden and pot plants.For further information about home composting, read my Complete Guide to Composting and Worm Farms.   

Use alternatives to plastic bags and food wraps in the kitchen

By swapping plastic with eco-friendly alternatives you will drastically reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.   Choose compostable bags and food wraps, silicone lids for containers, beeswax wraps, muslin bags, and storage containers made from glass or stainless steel.

I have a set of silicone lids which are a great way to avoid using plastic wrap. They come in different sizes and can stretch over bowls or to save cut fruit. They may be hand washed or put in the top rack of the dishwasher. My set has lasted at least two years.

Silicone Lids.  These may be stretched over bowls, or used as fruit and vegetable savers.  Hand wash or put in the top rack of the dishwasher to clean.  Reuse again and again.  May be placed in the microwave
Silicone Lids. These may be stretched over bowls, or used as fruit and vegetable savers. Hand wash or put in the top rack of the dishwasher to clean. Reuse again and again. May be placed in the microwave

Reusing and re-purposing plastic

A common question among people trying to reduce kitchen waste is:  should I throw out all my plastic bags and containers?  The answer is, absolutely not!  That will only add to the landfill.  Instead, try to reuse them as much as possible before you discard them.  Re-purpose them elsewhere. 

Plastic containers could be used for storage.  Even ones that have lost their lids could be used as dividers in your sock drawer or bathroom.  Reuse plastic until it’s completely unsuitable for further use, and only buy sustainable products from now on.

Use stainless steel, silicone or ceramic alternatives to disposable or plastic

Reusable items include drinking straws, coffee mugs, drink containers with lids, coffee pods and lunch boxes.  You will save money as well as reduce plastic use.

Swap paper towel and cleaning implements to eco-friendly alternatives 

I love the fact that there are now reusable alternatives to so many products.  Everything from cotton or cellulose dishcloths to coconut pot scrubbers are now available. Look for products made from sustainable materials, including the packaging they come in.  The bonus is that they look great, especially the bamboo ones.  

As someone who has multiple allergies and very sensitive skin, it is vital for me to avoid strong chemicals.  Eco-friendly cleaning products made from natural ingredients are better for the environment and less allergenic to my skin.  Look for pure Castile soap products.

Clever Ways to Reduce Kitchen Waste.  Save Money and Lower Your Carbon Footprint.  Alternatives to plastic wrap, cleaning implements made from environmentally friendly materials, produce bags, reusable drinking straws and coffee mugs
Clever Ways to Reduce Kitchen Waste. Save Money and Lower Your Carbon Footprint. Alternatives to plastic wrap, cleaning implements made from environmentally friendly materials, produce bags, reusable drinking straws and coffee mugs

Where to find stockists of eco-friendly goods

We are lucky to be able to purchase a huge range of eco-friendly products in Australia.  Our supermarkets and department stores have increased their range over the years and there are specialty stores as well.  You can find a lot of eco-friendly products online.  The Well Store sells not only environmentally friendly  homeware, but also food and health supplements.  

Because of my allergies I am always on the search for products that are hypo-allergenic and made ethically from natural ingredients.   The Well Store has an extensive range for personal and home use.  I recommend this company to anyone trying to reduce waste in their kitchen, and lower their carbon footprint. 

Reduce your kitchen waste

To sum up, reducing waste in your kitchen is as easy as swapping plastic and disposable products with reusable or compostable products.  You will not only reduce your carbon footprint, ultimately you will save money.  You may purchase many of the products from supermarkets or specialty stores such as The Well Store.

Can you suggest other ways to reduce your kitchen waste? I’d love to hear what ways you are environmentally friendly at home. Leave a comment below.

Before Starting Your Workout at Home

This equipment is enough to get you started on your home gym.  Remember the most important aspect of exercising is to choose one you enjoy and stick to it.  Get into a good routine where you exercise regularly, whether that be cardio and strength three times a week or second daily yoga.  Any regular exercise is essential for your mental and emotional health. If you are new to regular exercise or have significant health problems, see your doctor prior to starting a new exercise regime (see my disclaimer – this post is intended for general informational purposes only).

Workout Planner - use a planner like this to keep motivated.  You can set your goal for the week and track your progress.  Image source: Canva.  Data"- pin - nopin = "true"
Workout Planner – use a planner like this to keep motivated. You can set your goal for the week and track your progress.
Image source: Canva

You may enjoy other articles such as What You Need to Know Before You Start Walking for your Health.

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Gift Guide for The Older Gentleman In Your Life

Gift guide for Father's Day

How to Buy Gifts for Your Grandfather and Father

I have read that some people are already shopping for Christmas presents! That is incredibly organised, but with shopping still not the experience we are used to due to social distancing, it is understandable that people want to get their shopping done early, and online. We have Father’s Day coming up in September in Australia so I thought I’d make a list of gifts that would be suitable for the older gentleman (father/grandfather) in your life. They are notoriously hard to buy for, because they either have everything or are stuck in a time-warp and not keen to try new gadgets or technology. But I have some ideas that might hit the spot, having shopped for my father, father-in-law, brothers and husband who all fit the description.

When Choosing Gifts for Older Men, keep in mind: 1. their comfort, 2. their safety, 3. convenience, and 4. let it be an expression of your love for them
When Choosing Gifts for Older Men, keep in mind: 1. their comfort, 2. their safety, 3. convenience, and 4. let it be an expression of your love for them

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure.

Choose gifts for older men with the following in mind: comfort, safety, convenience and love

As my father and father-in-law have aged, their mobility and dexterity have decreased. Gifts that can help them with tasks like reaching or picking things up, removing lids etc. would be much appreciated. Try these ideas:

  • Long handled brush
  • long handled shoehorn
  • jar opener
  • grabber
  • long-handled loofah

With age, many people suffer back pain and poor circulation. Add some comfort to their days with the following:

  • Lumbar support pillow
  • Wheat hot pack – please avoid buying if he has problems with his memory or sensation. Leaving heat wheat packs on for long periods, heating them too high or placing them on an area of the body with reduced sensation can lead to serious burns. Use with caution
  • Throw rug
  • Tray table
  • Portable fan, heater or air conditioner – ensure they have a safety cut-off switch if they are knocked over. Avoid heaters with a naked flame or gas fuel.
  • Foot stool

The safety of your older loved one is important, so make sure you look at the design of slippers and shoes. They should be non-slip and fit snugly to their feet so that trips and slips are avoided. Try these:

  • Non-slip slippers
  • Non-slip socks
Gift Guide for Older Men - 1. non-slip socks 2. long handled loofah 3. heat pack 4. tray table 5. dexterity gadgets 6. magazines and puzzle books 7. weather station 8. Kindle eReader 9. lumbar support pillow
Gift Guide for Older Men – 1. non-slip socks 2. long handled loofah 3. heat pack 4. tray table 5. dexterity gadgets 6. magazines and puzzle books 7. weather station 8. Kindle eReader 9. lumbar support pillow

As my parents and parents-in-law have aged, they spend more time at home. In order to keep their mind active, and improve their quality of life, the following gifts would be appreciated:

  • Kindle e-reader loaded with his favourite books
  • Subscription to their favourite magazine or newspaper
  • Weather station – for his obsession with the weather
  • BBQ set (long handled) and gourmet sauces
  • Valet stand to keep all their necessities in one place
  • Puzzle books to keep his mind young
  • Keyring locator so he never loses his keys again.

What Not to Buy For Older Men

After many years of buying presents for older men, I would recommend that you avoid buying the following:

  • T-shirts and shirts. They usually don’t fit well, and are not to your loved one’s liking. For example, they may only wear crew neck, a certain colour or style, or spend their days wearing old t-shirts and not the beautiful button-up dress shirt you lovingly chose for them. Most shirts end up in the back of the wardrobe or as oil rags.
  • Shoes or slippers that are poor fitting or not safe e.g. scuffs. Slippers and scuffs are the cause of many falls which is detrimental to their health – elderly men don’t bounce, they break.
  • Anything to do with their hobbies, or a hobby that you think would be a good idea for them to try. For example the men in my family all love fishing and gardening but they have very specific requirements when it comes to equipment for their hobby. Likewise tool organisation – I bought my husband a work bench and tool organisation system and I have never seen him use it. The shed still looks a mess.
  • Lotto tickets or gift cards. One of my relatives buys these for every birthday, Christmas etc. as gifts – I personally think it’s a cop-out with very little thought put into it. The one actual present she bought us – a beautiful soft baby blue blanket – is memorable and very special.
  • Alcohol – This falls into the same category as lotto tickets. Alcohol is neither special nor memorable and why feed a bad habit?!
  • A coffee mug – he will still drink out of his coffee stained, chipped mug because it’s his favourite one.
  • Anything that is too technical, for example a smart phone. My in-laws both went back to their old mobile phones because they couldn’t get used to a smart phone.

I hope you can find something suitable from my gift guide for older men – feel free to comment if it has helped you choose a gift, or if you can suggest any other gifts that he would like. You may also like to read Gifts that Inspire a Healthy Lifestyle.

Gift Ideas for Father's Day - how to buy gifts for older men.  A complete guide to selecting the best gifts with his comfort, convenience and safety in mind.
Gift Ideas for Father’s Day – how to buy gifts for older men. A complete guide to selecting the best gifts with his comfort, convenience and safety in mind.
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What You Need to Know Before You Start Walking for Your Health

Walking for Health - What You Need to Know

Please note, this article is for informational purposes only – see my disclaimer here. It is aimed at people who would like to start walking for exercise, especially those who have other health problems that may hold them back from starting to walk for their health.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure

The benefits of walking for health

Walking has many health benefits including increased cardiovascular fitness, improved weight control and increasing your life span. This guide tells you all you need to know before you start walking for health. Walking has been shown to lead to sustained weight loss, especially if you walk regularly. It is the only exercise I do, and I lost over 17kg last year and have kept it off. If you incorporate walking in to your healthy lifestyle, along with other choices of a well balanced diet, stopping smoking, minimal alcohol and plenty of sleep, you will derive multiple benefits including reduced stress, weight control and improved tolerance to illness. Just 30 minutes brisk walking per day has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes and extend your lifespan.

Start walking for health - even if you have health issues
You can start walking for your health even if you have health problems, under the supervision of health professionals trained in this field.

Why you need to see a doctor before you start a walking program

Any walking plan should begin with a trip to your GP. If you have other health issues such as heart disease, arthritis in your joints or chronic back pain, you will need to have an individualised program under the supervision of a physiotherapist or other trained specialist in this field. This is especially relevant if you haven’t exercised for a long time or have a significant amount of weight to lose. Starting off slowly and building up your tolerance will mean that you have less issues such as strained muscles.

I don’t want to put you off altogether, however, there are some precautions to be aware of. If you experience any symptoms such as palpitations, severe shortness of breath or chest pain, seek medical attention straight away. Any muscle aches and pains can be treated by a cold pack, resting and elevating the affected leg, however anything more serious should be examined by a medical professional. Apart from these precautions, there is relatively very little that prevents you from starting to walk for your health. Walking is the best exercise for anyone with other health issues because it is less stress on your body.

Why I started walking for health

10 years ago I was relatively fit. I went to the gym at least three times a week and swam 1 km on the other days. I trained for triathlons and competed in two. My stamina was deteriorating, but I just thought I needed to train harder. The harder I trained, the worse my exercise tolerance became, until one summer evening when I collapsed in a heap at boot camp. My heart was racing and palpitating, and I was gasping for breath. I had developed a cough as well which I thought was just a cold or flu. After a trip to my GP, he referred me to have a cardiac echo done. I thought that was a bit over the top: it couldn’t possibly be anything cardiac.

The cardiac echo showed I have an atrial septal defect, which I’ve had since birth (another genetic condition thanks to my dad’s mother who had the same thing). To be diagnosed at 43 was a huge shock to me, but it explained why my symptoms had got worse with increased exercise. I have two holes in my heart, plus an aneurysm in the wall between the top chambers (atrium). This allows unfiltered blood to circulate into my blood system, and the symptoms include palpitations, migraines and shortness of breath. I manage it by minimising the work my heart does – no high intensity exercise, and medications to stop the palpitations and lower my blood pressure.

Walking is the only exercise I do now. I swim in the summer but not as much as I used to, and I do some yoga although I’m out of practice now. Contrary to what one might believe, I don’t miss the heavy schedule of training that I used to do. I was often nursing injuries and my life revolved around training which left little time for anything else. My running used to be on a treadmill and I rarely walked in the fresh air. I had a lot of migraines, not surprising really.

Now I walk my dog every day and it is the best part of the day. I enjoy the fresh air and feel completely stress free when I’m walking. I’m telling you this story as a word of caution as to why any symptoms should be checked out by your doctor. It may be something completely out of the blue like mine. You always need to be checked by your doctor prior to undertaking any exercise program.

How to start walking for your health A complete guide to walking for health. How to start walking for health - all the precautions you need to know, and the essential equipment. Walking is a great way to stay healthy at any age, even when you have health problems.
A complete guide to walking for health. How to start walking for health – all the precautions you need to know, and the essential equipment. Walking is a great way to stay healthy at any age, even when you have health problems.

What you need for walking:

You can walk almost anywhere, in any weather (with adequate clothing for extreme temperatures and rain or sun), and it costs very little to get started. This is what you will need:

Shoes – Good shoes are a must as they take all the impact and need to support your feet so that you don’t get strains in your leg muscles. My favourites are Asics and Sketchers Go Walk. In the summer a good pair of sandals such as Planet Shoes (with arch support) may be more comfortable. I know a lot of people wear Birkenstocks but I’ve never tried them so I can’t rate how they are.

Hat – I always wear a cap but a wide brimmed hat is better for sun protection. Sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Sunscreen – SPF 50+ is the best. Neutrogena make a great spray-on one called Beach Defence. I bought a fantastic one in Japan by Biore – if you can buy it I recommend it as it is light, and goes on like moisturiser without leaving a greasy film on your skin. In Australia, Cancer Council make the best range of sunscreens and skin protection.

Clothing – walking doesn’t require any special clothing, but comfortable loose fitting clothes will be better. I wear shorts or long pants with pockets so that I can carry keys, phone, dog poo bags and hand sanitiser, leaving my hands free for the dog leash and a water bottle. You may prefer leggings which are definitely more comfortable. T-shirt and light sweatshirt are usually enough, and a lightweight jacket on rainy days.

Collage of What You Need for Walking - 1 drink bottle, 2 shoes, 3 hat, 4 exercise tracker, 5 sunscreen, 6 comfortable clothing
What You Need for Walking – 1 drink bottle 2 shoes 3 hat 4 fitbit 5 sunscreen 6 comfortable clothes

Optional – a dog, preferably a border collie! Even when you don’t feel like walking, they always do, and their pleading eyes will motivate you even on your laziest days. Being out in the fresh air is the best remedy for a glum mood, and my dog is a social butterfly so I get to meet all the other dog walkers even when I’m feeling antisocial so it helps take my mind off things. Seeing how happy he is lightens my mood so much and it definitely is the highlight of my day.

My dog Banjo and I walk daily for health.
My dog Banjo and I walk daily for health.

Fitbit or other fitness tracker – to record your steps for the day, pulse rate, weight, calorie intake and sleep. I am in challenges with other people on Fitbit which keeps me motivated.

In the above photo I’m wearing my Asics shoes, Uniclo pants (Ultra Stretch Leggings), Uniclo long sleeved shirt (Ribbed Cotton Crew Neck) and Katies jacket.

Other ways to increase your step count

The optimum number of steps per day is 10000. If you don’t have the time to take a 30 minute to one hour walk every day, you can increase your step count by doing the following:

  • Park further away
  • If you sit at a desk all day, set a reminder on your phone to get up and move every hour. My fitbit buzzes to remind me to take 250 steps every hour during the day
  • Walk in your lunch break
  • If you meet a friend regularly for coffee, get the coffee to takeaway and have a walk while you drink it
  • Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier and go for a quick walk in the morning
  • If the weather is bad, go to your local shopping centre and walk around there
  • Take the stairs at work. Walking up stairs burns calories 2-3 times faster than walking on level ground
  • Invest in a treadmill or join a gym so that you can use theirs

By gradually increasing the amount I walk, and by taking the stairs at work, I have increased my stamina so much that when I was in Japan a couple of years ago we used walking as our primary means of transport (apart from the train), and we managed to climb a mountain! I was so happy that my fitness had allowed me to see something that was only accessible by walking and climbing. Some days we walked up to 14km while we were there.

I hope I have inspired you to start your own walking program. You may like to read these other articles:

Slow and steady wins the race – how I lost weight by walking

How to make goals that stick – how to set realistic goals that you will achieve and stick with

Living the healthiest version of your life – even if you have health issues, you can still live the healthiest version of yourself

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A Complete Guide to Composting and Worm Farms

This guide will give you enough knowledge to start your own compost and worm farm. You will learn what equipment to buy, what you can and can’t compost, how to start a compost or worm farm, and where to go for further information.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure

Start with the Basics

Your garden needs soil that is rich in nutrients in order to thrive. The best way to provide those nutrients is to use compost as the basis of your soil. Compost is organic material that can be added to soil. It enriches the soil and improves it, providing a strong basis for plants to grow. Compost can be purchased from landscape suppliers, but the best compost is one that you make at home.

The Benefits of Composting and Worm Farms

In addition to improving your soil, composting has other benefits as well:

  • Reducing waste – composting reduces the amount of household waste that goes to landfill. Composting reduces the methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
  • Growing your own food with compost gives you the ability to grow organic, healthy food without fertilisers
  • Your plants are healthier and can withstand pest infestations and disease easier
  • You will need less water because the soil is healthier. The soil where I live is very sandy and poor quality. Adding compost to it gives it the nutrients and texture needed to retain moisture, enrich the soil and improve the health of the plants we grow.

Ingredients for a Compost

Your compost needs three main ingredients:

  • Brown: Twigs, branches and dead leaves. Cardboard and newspaper
  • Green: Grass clippings, food scraps, coffee grounds, tea leaves, vegetable scraps
  • Water

What you can and can’t compost

You can compost:

  • All vegetable and fruit scraps
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags, used coffee filters
  • Nut shells
  • Newspaper, shredded office paper
  • Cardboard
  • Grass clippings
  • Dead plants
  • Hay and straw
  • Pet fur and hair clippings
  • Vacuum dust
  • Cloths and rags
  • Ash from fireplaces
  • Wood chips and sawdust
  • Plant trimmings
  • Egg containers and similar containers made out of recycled paper

You can’t compost:

  • Eucalyptus and gum leaves, black walnut leaves, branches
  • Glossy paper and cardboard
  • Cooked food especially meat and fish
  • Diseased plants and weeds
  • Pet faeces and litter tray contents
  • Dairy products
  • Fat, oil
  • Plants treated with pesticides

Making your Compost

The easiest way to make a compost is to buy a bin from a garden supplies store such as Bunnings. There are a few different types available commercially, for example the traditional plastic bin or a compost tumbler. Alternatively, you could build one from scratch using wood for the frame and sacks or a tarpaulin to cover it. The bin should be situated in a shady part of your yard. We use two commercial bins made of plastic with lids. We use one continually until it is full, then the other one.

Guide to composting and worm farms. Dual compost bins.  Continuously fill one until it is full.  Meantime, the other one is breaking the organic material down into usable compost
Our dual compost bins. We fill one continually until it is full. Meantime, the other one is breaking the organic material down into usable compost.

It takes time for the compost to break down the material into suitable matter for your garden. Our climate is hot and humid so it takes less time to break down than in a cold climate.

Add green and brown material to the compost in equal amounts, and add water each time. Use a compost stirrer or hay pitching fork to rotate the material regularly – this add oxygen to it and helps it to break down. You can also add lime or a commercial compost conditioner to aid in breaking the material down. When the material in the compost bin is dark and rich in colour it is ready to use on the garden.

Alternatives to Composting – Worm Farms and Bokashis

If you don’t have a garden or produce much green waste, there are alternatives to composting: worm farms and bokashis. We have a worm farm, which takes up a small amount of room on our verandah. Bokashis can fit on your kitchen bench and ferment the food waste into decompostable form that can be buried in the garden or used to enrich the garden. I have never used a Bokashi so I can’t vouch for it, but I love our worm farm – the worm juice that it produces makes the plants in our garden thrive.

Starting a Worm Farm

We set up our worm farm over a year ago with the basic kit and a starter kit of 1000 worms. The worms were tiny when we bought them and now are the size of earthworms and are thriving. I feed them once or twice a week with kitchen scraps – you can give them any vegetable or fruit scraps apart from onions, garlic and citrus. Once a week we water them with a watering can full of water. There is a tap at the bottom of the worm farm that you turn on, and out flows worm juice – the byproduct of the worms’ digestive process. This is then diluted and used on the garden and pot plants. The plants visibly thrive with this fertiliser, which is natural and non toxic.

Guide to composting and worm farms.  A double-layer worm farm
Our worm farm.

The benefits of Worm Farms

I really enjoy looking after my worm farm and recommend using one when you don’t have space for other types of composting. It feels great to be able to use food scraps in this way to improve our plants – a complete recycling of our waste, and economical as well because the only costs are the initial set-up. It’s much cheaper than buying commercial fertiliser and isn’t harmful to use in any way.

Even in the heat of our Australian summer my worms survived. We put a worm blanket on top of the worms and water them more often. You can also add frozen blocks of water if it’s particularly hot, but we’ve had temperatures in the high 30’s (Celsius) and they survived. They’re more active in cooler, damp weather of course.

How to Care for Your Worm Farm

Caring for your worm farm.  Feed you worm with enough food scraps to cover 1/3 of the surface of the worm farm
Feed your worm with enough food scraps to cover 1/3 of surface of worm farm

Feed your worms with enough food scraps from your kitchen to cover 1/3 of the surface of the worm farm. Use vegetable and fruit scraps, cut up or mashed when the worms are small. I use a combination of large and small pieces of food so that the worms can eat the smaller pieces first and still have larger pieces for later in the week. Some take quite a while to break down like potato peels and cabbage leaves.

Close-up of worms and their food in a worm farm
Close-up of worms and their food

This photo shows a close-up of the worms with some of the more fibrous food – corn husks and egg shells. The worms need this grittier material to aid in digestion.

Cover the food with commercial compost once you have added it to the worm farm
Cover the food with some commercial compost once you have added it to the compost

Take a handful of commercial compost (if you have some of your own garden compost you can use that as well), and sprinkle it over the food.

Cover the worms with a worm blanket to keep the temperature regulated
Cover the worms with a worm blanket to keep the temperature regulated

 Lay a worm farm mat over the top (purchase at a garden supplies store such as Bunnings, or online where-ever you buy your worm farm from). Once a week water with approximately 5 liters water, preferably rain water. After an hour or so open the tap at the bottom of the worm farm.

The tap at the base of the worm farm allows you to drain the worm juice off after you have watered the worms.  The worm juice is then diluted and spread on your garden and pot plants
The tap at the base of the worm farm allows you to drain the worm juice off after you have watered the worms. The worm juice is then diluted and spread on your garden and pot plants.

After the worm juice is drained out, close the tap again. Dilute the worm juice 1 part worm juice to 10 parts water. This creates a nutritious tonic that can be added directly to your garden and pot plants. Use on any plants over two weeks old, and as a fertiliser at any time. The benefits are that it improves your garden without chemicals, and is non-toxic to your pets, children or yourselves.

Further Resources for Composting and Worm Farms

Our worm farm is a Tumbleweed product – their website is a great resource for starting and maintaining your worm farm and compost. There are some great video tutorials as well.

I recommend learning about the different types of composting in Compost Revolution’s Compost Tutorial. There is a guide to help you select which composting method suits you, and if you live in Australia, you can buy their products at a discount. Some city councils also give you a discount for composting because it helps them to reduce the waste going to landfills.

I hope you enjoyed this complete guide to composting and worm farms. I hope I have inspired you to try this eco-friendly way to reduce household waste and create healthy organic fertiliser and compost for your garden. You may also enjoy this post on starting a garden from scratch.

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