Thoughtful, Creative Gift Ideas for Seniors

Struggling to find the perfect holiday gift for an aging loved one? Here are several creative gift ideas for seniors to help get you started!

Entertainment Passes. Even if they are independent and active, a retired senior is often on a fixed income and cannot afford extras such as tickets to the theatre, golf course passes, and similar entertainment activities. Give them an experience they will cherish with tickets or passes an upcoming performance or local pastime like golfing or dance lessons. Maybe even make a date out of it, so you can enjoy it together!

Custom Gift Basket. Elderly people have a lot of difficulty shopping, so a special gift basket just for them is a lovely treat! Pack it with their favorite cookies and chocolate, tea, fresh fruit, and snacks. Add in things such as slippers, restaurant gift cards, small games or puzzles, large-print magazines, and maybe some assistive items such as a page magnifier, head lamp, or oversized calculator.

Tablet. Although the aging loved one(s) in your life may not be tech-savvy, they can easily learn how to use a tablet for reading, engaging with friends over social media, and more! A tablet can help them feel more connected, while also offering entertainment. Since it’s an all-in-one device, a tablet such as a Kindle Fire or iPad can also help them manage medications, exercise their mind with brain games, and read their favorite books in large-print.

Memory Book. One of the most treasured things we all have is our memories, which is why dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is so painful. Remind your loved one of the best of times with a handmade photo or scrapbook that they can flip through and enjoy.

Household Items. As boring as it may seem, elderly people don’t have much ability to shop for household items that suit developing conditions such as arthritis, diminishing eyesight/hearing, etc. Items such as cozy throw blankets, clothing that is easy to put on and remove, custom kitchen essentials (ergonomic and better grip), towels, and devices to help them manage their medications are great ideas.

The gift of fitness is one that you can give as well, and it’s a gift that improves every aspect of their life! Give them the video enhanced eBook, Fit After Fifty: Because It Makes Everything Better, to inspire them, and consider purchasing a membership to their local gym so that they have a place to start.

Featured photo source.

How to Engage and Reduce the Feeling of Isolation this Holiday Season

While many families are anticipating weeks of madness in preparation for and celebration of the holidays, the season can be a different kind of dreadful for others. It can be the most isolating time of year for seniors and the elderly people who do not have family or community nearby.

Loneliness and isolation can lead to serious depression in elderly people – a potentially deadly condition. If you do not have a community that you can enjoy during the holidays, and your family is inaccessible this year, make an effort to engage and reduce the feeling of isolation this holiday season. Here are some ideas:

  • Join in local events. Plenty of neighborhoods and communities have celebratory events and activities for the holiday season. You may need to have some mobility for this idea, but you should find out what’s happening near you, and attend anything that sounds fun and is open to the public.
  • Give back. You’ve heard the adage, “It’s better to give than receive”, and nothing is truer this time of year. Trump any isolation by finding ways you can engage with the less privileged, either through a local church or community center.
  • Reach out to your neighbors. Sometimes we just need to ask for the help that we need. If you have neighbors with a family, consider asking them if they would consider coming by for some hot chocolate and cookies on Christmas Day.
  • Adopt an underprivileged family. Local food banks and homeless shelters will have information about underprivileged families who are struggling this time of year. Why not see if you can find a family that will share the day with you? If you’re unable to cook, you could bring the ingredients and keep the kids occupied while the parents cook Christmas dinner.

If you live in the U.K., you might not have to take initiative on this yourself. A Huffington Post reporter recently brought attention to Friends of the Elderly and Community Christmas, two non-profits in the U.K. who are mobilizing volunteers around the world to gift the gift of time to seniors in their community this year. Other local organizations may also be doing similar events – check with your local community center and nearby churches.

“We know that loneliness can have a devastating impact on older people’s lives, and those we work with tell us that becoming isolated from a community they were once part of can be especially difficult. That’s why we’re calling on individuals, organizations and businesses to put on Christmas Day activities to bring together older people in their community who don’t want to be alone,” said Steve Allen, Friends of the Elderly Chief Executive.

Efforts like these will help to reduce the feeling of isolation that many elderly people experience during this season. Last year, the Royal Voluntary Service estimated that 490,000 elderly people would spend Christmas 2014 alone – a number that is certain to increase year over year. Let’s work to reduce the number of people who are spending the holiday season in isolation.

Featured photo source:

Playgrounds for Seniors are Fun, Improve Health & Balance

I recently came across a Huffington Post article about a fantastic new concept for elderly peoples’ fitness… playgrounds! Apparently communities in Europe and Asia have begun to open playgrounds specifically designed with seniors in mind – meaning low-impact exercise equipment – and the trend has come to the U.S.

Playgrounds for seniors and parks that are designed for multi-generational consumers provide a fun, playful way to exercise important areas such as coordination and range of motion.

The low-impact equipment at these playgrounds is engineered to promote balance and flexibility – two important things that seniors consistently struggle to maintain or improve. Additionally (as you might expect), there are significant mental and social benefits to the playgrounds for seniors, as the parks often become community-gathering spots.

In partnership with the Humana Foundation, a company called KaBOOM! has constructed more than 50 multi-generational playgrounds across the U.S., serving both the elderly and the young. “Play is a great connector for adults and seniors and the children in their lives. In addition to the cognitive and physical benefits of play, it can also reduce stress in adults and is proven to help combat toxic stress in kids,” said Sarah Pinsky, KaBOOM!’s Director of Client Services.

Some of the most common equipment found at playgrounds for seniors include static or recumbent bicycles, striders, leg press machines, dexterity games, elliptical machines, steps, body flexors and ramped walking paths. “The best installations help to improve balance and minimize the risk of falls, build muscle strength and tone, extend your range of motion, and improve your manual dexterity,” noted a Senior Planet article about playgrounds for seniors.

A 2004 study of these playgrounds for seniors found that after three months of regular use (90 minutes per week) seniors aged 65 to 81 experienced improved balance, coordination and speed. They also were felt confident and empowered when faced with physical obstacles.

Would you exercise and play at a senior playground or multi-generational park in your neighborhood?

Featured photo source:

Fitness After Fifty is NOT an Option, It’s a Requirement

By Bill Fleckenstein

If you intend to enjoy your life after 50 (and who doesn’t want to?), you must stay fit. It isn’t an option not to, otherwise the natural effects of the aging process will slowly compromise your body and the things that you are able to do and enjoy. Simply participating in a sports isn’t enough; you must actively stay ahead of the curve by building your strength and aerobic conditioning through regular exercise.

The way I attempt to slow down the vagaries of the aging process is by doing CrossFit workouts 3-4 times a week (and I play tennis on the other days). While CrossFit isn’t as much fun as tennis is for me, I find it to be a very efficient way to keep me fit. Though plenty of negative (and positive) ink has been spilled about CrossFit, the fact of the matter is that if you use your head and scale workouts so that they fit your own idiosyncrasies, it works extremely well.

I have found that it really helps to join a gym like Northwest CrossFit where the owner plans sensible – as opposed to macho – programming. Had I not started doing it in 2007, I am certain that today my quality of life would be severely compromised.

Hopefully this helps jump start a few folks into taking back control of their bodies instead of ceding it to the “aging process”.

NW CrossFit & How to Choose a Fitness Trainer

By Jake Platt, Founder, President & CEO of NW CrossFit

Our lives depend on our fitness. When we exercise regularly and correctly (form and function), we are more flexible, energized, fit, and healthy! But the process of getting to that point can feel overwhelming or complicated. A fitness trainer is key to helping you make the most of every workout, avoiding injury, and receiving the accountability and encouragement you need.

At our three Northwest CrossFit locations around Seattle, we practice in-depth training with our clients to help them achieve their fitness goals. Here are our suggestions for how to choose a fitness trainer to support you…

1) Find a trainer with expertise in your ideal fitness program.

There exist dozens of trending fitness programs these days, the most popular of which is CrossFit. Despite (or maybe because of) its popularity, there are lots of misconceptions about this fitness training program. Our goal at Northwest CrossFit is to break these misconceptions down and show that it is an amazing program for people of all ages. If done right, CrossFit leads to Functional Fitness that will help us get in shape, function better, build confidence, achieve wellness, and have an overall better quality of life as we get older.


2) Knowledge and expertise are key for effective fitness training.

Just because a person is familiar with fitness methods that work for himself or herself doesn’t mean they can help others. A fitness trainer needs to have knowledge, expertise, education, and training. Our Northwest CrossFit trainers believe that there is no one we can’t help, regardless of our client’s current state of health and fitness.


3) Choose a fitness trainer who will support you – all the way!

An effective workout training session requires far more than just a trainer telling you what to do and the number of reps. Every fitness trainer at Northwest CrossFit offers each client lots of help, support and guidance throughout the training sessions. Our goal is first to inspire confidence, instill a sense of accomplishment, and help you reach your fitness goals without injury.


4) Your trainer should have the ability to modify your workouts to best suit your abilities and needs.

Most people have the view that CrossFit is an intense or extreme method of fitness training. While certainly can be for some, we like to scale the intensity of workouts to meet each individual’s skill and strength level. Northwest CrossFit practices unlimited scaling of intensity for each client’s workouts by focusing on weight load, the volume of reps/length of time, and range of motion.


5) Bonus points if your trainer has a network of related fitness services!

Fitness doesn’t just happen with exercise. It’s super helpful if your trainer can point you toward nutritionists, physical therapists, and other services that can help round out your fitness. At our Interbay location, we have partnered with Kinetic Sports Rehab to offer our clients access to Sports Rehabilitation Doctors and Rehab Specialists. This is cool and unique because it is important for athletes of all ages to get help getting through pitfalls in their journey toward fitness, and not let an injury stop them from reaching their fitness goals.


NW CrossFit has multiple locations around Seattle: in Ballard, Greenlake, and Interbay. We work with individuals of all ages, and have several clients who are age 50+, they love what CrossFit is doing for them! Ready to get started with a CrossFit fitness trainer? Check out our Beginner Series!

nw crossfit beginner seriesNote: We have two specials going on right now:

  • $59 for our two week beginner series (normally $195)
  • Six (6) one-on-one sessions with a trainer for $300 (normally $450), and you can bring a friend to join you if you’d like.

Your first session with us is always free!

A Perspective on Spinning from Live Love Flow

By Jaime Scates Schmitz from

OK, now it’s time for honesty. I do not love spinning the way I love yoga. But I see it as a necessary evil. Before Live Love Flow, I operated a yoga studio for 3.5 years that offered just yoga (Mountain Flow Yoga in Madrona). Yoga all by itself was never quite enough for me. I had a spin bike at home, which I used often and I ran to keep the cardio conditioning up. As mountain biking is the second greatest love of my life, just behind yoga, the addition of a spin studio seemed logical. If I lived somewhere that riding 3-5 days a week up big hills on the dirt was a possibility, you might not find me in the spin studio. But since I have to hoof it up to the mountains with my bike packed away in the car, that’s just too many hours out of the day. So you’ll find me in the spin studio a lot! And don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the music, I LOVE the energy, I appreciate the intensity and therefore the efficiency. And well, it does make me feel AMAZING!

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons.

Photo source: Wikipedia Commons.

Spinning is an amazing way for people who are getting older to start or complement a fitness routine:

  1. When you’re inside on a stationary bike, you’re not going to fall or get hit by a car. There’s very minimal risk of needing a hip replacement from falling!
  2. When the bike is ridden in the ergonomically correct way, there’s zero impact on the joints and it keeps them lubricated by using them.
  3. Spinning increases serotonin and endorphins so we feel amazing.
  4. The ticker needs that cardio conditioning.
  5. One of the leading contributors to aging is the decrease in production of HGH (Human Growth Hormone). Don’t get a shot; you can become dependent and stop making your own naturally. But DO high intensity interval training – we do a ton in spinning. ”High intensity burst training in which one’s heart rate bursts above their anaerobic threshold (best established by VO2 max testing) for 30 second intervals five or more times in a workout. This engages super-fast twitch muscle fibers, which release HGH naturally.”
  6. You can really go at your own pace. The teacher will set a cadence and a gear; if it’s too hard, scale back. No one’s pressuring you; it’s your ride!

So my number one goal in life is not to be super fit, super fast or super awesome on the bike. It’s to be super conscious, super awake, super alive, FREE and vibrant. I’ve wrapped my brain around how spinning supports this for me.

As we’re riding, the mind puts up a lot of resistance: it’s really HARD in the class, so the noisy mind loves to complain, to pull us onto the path of least resistance, to bitch and moan. I see spinning as an amazing opportunity to “shush” that part of my mind. If I can cultivate equanimity to that suffering and silence the mental bulls*#t to face the challenge, I win!

Spinning also teaches an amazing lesson about transcending/transmuting our drama and our trauma. I don’t want to scare anyone, but I don’t want to minimize how hard we work in there; it’s kind of nuts! However, the minute we walk out of the room we feel AMAZING and we put the story of the ride and all of the suffering it evoked into the past where it belongs. We don’t relive the ride over and over and over again the way we do everything else that hurts, i.e. heart-ache, legal battles, neglect, addiction, being “wronged” by another, failure, embarrassment, suffering etc. Nope, we hop off the bike an we pop that ride into the past.

Now THAT’s a powerful lesson in movin’ right on through, moving higher and increasing consciousness.

I do think that anyone who’s using just the spin side of the studio is missing the whole point of Live Love Flow, but heck, they’re welcome and maybe the energy that’s being created in that amazing space, sincerely dedicated to evolving consciousness will seep into their field and we’ll find them in the yoga studio.


A Perspective on Yoga from Live Love Flow

By Jaime Scates Schmitz from

When Tony first asked me to do a piece for I was reticent: #1, I’m not 50 or even that close and #2, I cringe a bit whenever someone refers to me as a fitness guru . . . I am not.

In response to #1, I thought ‘What the heck do I know about being fit after fifty?’ And in response to #2, barring a car falling on my child, you will probably never see me lift a heavy thing.

I pushed through resistance item #1 when I thought of my amazing parents and my cute mom, who while still vital, attractive and lovely, is seeing her body wear down. Then I thought of my friend, student and current teacher-trainee, Nancy Richards, who at 64 moves like a 30-year-old in yoga, crushes it on the spin bike, hikes, bikes and skis. WOW. I’ll take that.

I pushed through resistance item #2 because I LOVE yoga (yes it’s a work out, but at its core it’s a spiritual practice of which the work-out is a tiny portion). I’m also happy to ride indoors to stay conditioned for mountain biking (my second greatest love behind yoga) and I believe all of the research about intense cardiovascular exercise increasing HGH, endorphins, serotonin etc. – I’ll take all of that because there’s nothing that I love more than feeling AMAZING.

As soon as Tony and I started the interview I knew it was a great idea. It was an opportunity to talk about my passions to a new audience.

Watch the interview here:


Yoga is amazing for EVERYBODY. It’s especially amazing for bodies that want to age gracefully. In yoga, we move through our entire range of motion and all of our little accessory (rarely used) muscles. We also work tremendously hard on the core, which protects and lengthens the spine. Flexibility and balance are two of the first pieces of athleticism and health that people lose as they age, and yoga helps to improve those areas as well.

We spend a lot of time upside down in down-dog, forward-folds and inversions. These poses have amazing benefits to calming the parasympathetic nervous system and they are officially working against gravity – take that sagging skin! We do work incredibly hard, doing a lot of lunges, chattaranga pushups, side planks etc. We are using our own body weight to build bone density, which is another must for people over fifty!

Photo credit: Pixabay

Photo credit: Pixabay

So that’s just a tiny list of the health benefits of yoga. But my favorite thing about yoga in its ability to invite people to age gracefully is simply the fluidity and grace we introduce.

We hold so much tension and density in our bodies because it gives us the illusion of control. We also hold all of our pain, failure, drama and trauma as little energy nodules in the body called samskaras.

Everything in the universe, including humans, flows in an energetic pattern called a tube torus. When the tube torus is open and flowing freely we are clean, clear, bright, free and alive. In nature we can see examples of clean energy patterns flowing together. Nature balances, syncs, synergizes and coalesces with itself. We are intended to synergize in the same way and our tube torus is supposed to flow freely.

Sadly, due to all of the density, tension and samskaras we hold in our bodies (as well as a lot of external influences from the electromagnetic soup we swim in and the SAD – standard American diet) our energetic patterns are generally not flowing properly. We can see in the high rates of addiction that are currently in existence (I just read that while only 10 percent of Americans are truly addicted to alcohol, a full 30 percent are alcohol-dependent). Other examples include depression, numbing with the dumbing of American TV, the acceptance of hard-core violence and soft-core porn into our living rooms every night (not mine!), environmental degradation, poverty, famine, the sex trade of children, war, genetically modified food, disease etc. By all of these things, we see that we are clearly NOT syncing with nature in the way that was our birthright, in the way spirit intended for us.

In yoga, we move through our entire energetic sphere with grace and fluidity. When we do this with a burning desire to connect to consciousness, to cleanse our habits and our patterns, to free ourselves from our rigidity, to move higher, we just might make a little progress in that 60 – 75 minutes on our mats.

There’s something about moving with fluidity and grace, the way we do in yoga that also breaks down linear thinking. It helps us confuse the mind, move in a circle, play. Einstein said, “Confusion is the brink of discovery.” When we’re confused, doing something new, and pushing our edges we create new neural pathways (we’re pretty addicted to the ones we always use, and most of those stories aren’t so pleasant). So get a little lost, get a little confused, try something new, change your brain and explore that brink of discovery!

If we all work hard on cleaning up our own energy, elevating our own vibration, bringing ourselves into greater alignment and higher consciousness, then sooner or later that nasty list from above will start to shrink and lose it’s hold over humanity.

The Power of Social Fitness Communities: Be Social!

social fitness

Is Social Fitness The Way to Go?

Fit After Fifty believes it is! One of the biggest challenges, especially for those new to fitness, is staying on track with your workout program. To some, having a “workout buddy” can help you stay motivated, as can hiring a trainer (the two roles might even mesh together!). Some might prefer to workout alone since that helps them concentrate on certain techniques with no interruptions and will be in and out of the gym. However, “going social” with your fitness routine not only helps stave off boredom but reaps other benefits as well.

Seek out a community that encourages and supports you to help reach your goals…maybe help you define those goals in the first place.  A “fitness community” can vary in shape & form–a running club, a crossfit gym, the YMCA, a group of friends that meet for weekly pick-up volleyball, a golf club, your spouse that walks with you every morning…[fill in the blank].  Making social fitness most often facilitates a certain level of  variety, intensity and group energy.  The camaraderie and resulting peer pressure lead to accountability, which tends to keep even the most couch-potato-inclined moving. Read more

Can we inspire people to take action?

“Telling and listening to stories is the way we make sense of our lives,” said Dr. Thomas K. Houston, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and the Veterans Affairs medical center in Bedford, Mass. “That natural tendency may have the potential to alter behavior and improve health.” More from this NYT article here:

As we get ready to publish the Fit After Fifty multimedia eBook, we’re curious to hear your thoughts regarding this concept.  And, do you think we might be on the right track toward implementing it?



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Thanks for your continued support and interest!  (Military-specific survey coming soon!!)