Article Highlights

In this article we discuss the following topics related to gift ideas for older loved ones:

  • Overview
  • Gifts for the kitchen
  • Reminder gifts
  • Comfort gifts
  • Mind games gifts
  • Health-related gifts
  • Sentimental gifts
  • Do it yourself (DIY) gifts
  • Practical gifts

Overview

Struggling to think of a gift idea for an aging parent or another older loved one? Shopping for a good gift for an older parent or grandparent can sometimes be difficult. As the seasons change, so can our interests. We mature and move away from some of the things we once held dear. But despite this trend, as we enter the twilight years, there is often a deep yearning for the past. With age also often comes disabilities or health limitations. This can make finding a gift for the older adults in our lives all the more difficult. In order to avoid the confusion and hassle that comes with finding the perfect gift for a loved one, here are a few things you should take into consideration.

  • Is it practical?
  • Does it make their life easier or provide them comforts?
  • Will it bring a smile to their face?
  • Do they live independently or in an assisted living facility?

Autonomy and Security:

Many older adults wish to maintain their autonomy. It’s a valuable part of acquiring more knowledge about oneself, and a point of pride. Understandably therefore, you may also want to consider their security. Where they value their security and autonomy most is in their home. Most adults want to age in place, meaning remain in the home, as they get older.

Gifts for the Kitchen

The kitchen is the part of the house that is used most frequently, especially for preparing food for family gatherings. Unfortunately, it is also where serious accidents can occur, especially for older adults. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), adults over the age of 65 are more than twice more likely to die from a kitchen fire than the general population. To mitigate these risks, the following gifts may prove useful:

  • Stove tops and electrical issues are usually the culprits for fires. A smart gift could thus be an induction cooktop. These appliances are very practical in the kitchen because there are no open flames, and they are not gas-powered appliances, which greatly lowers the risks of fires. An induction cooktop immediately cools itself down and shuts itself off when it does not detect the placing of a pan or skillet on the unit. This greatly reduces the chances of fire and injury. The simplistic design makes the cooktop easy to use, and its light weight and portability make it effortless to clean. It also saves energy, time, and money. Who wouldn’t love a gift like that?
  • The once simple job of opening a can may now be harder for someone with arthritis or Parkinson’s, so a great gift to lighten the burden would be a battery powered can opener. They are quite simple, and all that is required is to attach the can to the appliance, and then it propels the can on it’s own.

Reminder Gifts

If your parent or other loved one often forgets things or is struggling with the beginnings of dementia or other memory problems, reminder gifts might be useful and appreciated. Memory problems can range from simply misplacing keys, to not remembering to take their medication, a mistake that can have serious consequences. Here are some suggested gift ideas that can help them with these problems:

  • A great gift idea that helps bring their independence back is The Reminder Rosie. This mechanism is used to remind adults to perform daily activities such as taking medications and keeping appointments. This product is voice activated, so it requires no touch, which is perfect for the visually impaired or arthritic seniors. It is also all recorded in a personal voice, which gives the person comfort and familiarity. You can record up to 25 daily or weekly reminders, plus it works during power outages and can be recorded in many languages.
  • The Key Finder is another useful item that solves a common problem. It helps locate the lost keys within a 45 foot radius. It includes a base and two marked key fobs, so when the keys go missing, just push the button on the marker that corresponds to the lost set of keys and an alert-alarm goes off. It is an inexpensive stocking-stuffer gift. This can make a great inexpensive stocking-stuffer holiday gift.
  • Remembering to take medications can be a mild nuisance for older adults, especially when they have to take various pills for different ailments throughout the day. Pill organizers can be an essential way to establish order for oneself. This is also a great way to lower the chances for prescription drug misuse, which can cause a host of challenges. They come in a variety of styles and range from daily, weekly to monthly storage; they also vary in size. You should however consider ease of access: can they open the pill organizer with ease? Some pill organizers come with a reminder system and alarm clock, which is also helpful to those who have hearing issues or visual issues.

Comfort Gifts

Keeping warm is a key way for avoiding sickness, and with a heated blanket, you are sure to keep them feeling warm. A heated blanket can be a cozy way for someone to curl up on a couch or in bed. These blankets range in size and are made of soft polyester microfiber. They feature an automatic shut-off device for safety, and a digital controller with different heat settings. These blankets comes in an array of colors, including blue, red, sage, or tan.

Another great idea for a comfortable gift your loved one might enjoy is a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets are proposed to help with insomnia and to help ease anxiety. Originally developed for children with autism, weighted blankets have more recently gained mainstream popularity for their calming effects.

If your loved one has a favorite scent or values self-care and hygiene, a nice body lotion also always makes a great gift and is something they can enjoy and continue to appreciate despite potential mental or physical challenges with age. Lavender scented products are generally appreciated for their calming properties.

Mind Games

Studies have suggested that using learning games such as puzzles might help slow the effects of memory loss and other cognitive impairments of the brain. They also help with socializing in a group setting, which produces a healthy outlook. A USA Today report found that people over the age of 65 who engaged in creative activities were healthier than those who did not engage in anything artistic. Here are some gift ideas for mind games your loved one might enjoy:

  • Puzzles and coloring books are fun ways to engage with older loved ones; they can also promote independence and aid in cognition.
  • Websites, like Pastimes.com and many more, offer a vast number of puzzles for seniors who enjoy solving games. They also help arthritic hands and those who are visually impaired.
  • For seniors who wish to learn how to crochet, a crochet book can be a great way for them to hone their skills. These books show different styles of stitching, and they also provide step-by-step guides with photographs and helpful tips.

Health-Related Gifts

A healthy lifestyle is important for all people, and particularly for seniors. To attain good health, older adults need to partake in physical activity and consume healthy nutrients that help mitigate against problems that compromise their well-being. Good sleep and vitamin D are essential in this context, but if an aging person does not get adequate sleep or enough sunlight, certain aspects of their health may suffer. Here are a few helpful items:

  • To help deal with sleeping disorders, a good investment might be a sleep machine. It plays calming nature sounds that help one fall asleep. It is also relaxing, and it can block out distracting sounds. A machine that presents these qualities and more is the Ecotones Sleep Therapy Machine. It has 10 sound profiles, three richness settings to control sounds, two operational settings, an alarm clock, and adaptive sound technology. This adaptive sound technology refers to the machine’s ability to continuously listen and adapt to the sounds in said room. To better understand this, if an older adult lives near a busy street where cars drive by all through the night, the machine will notice this and adjust the volume of the sound, thus drowning out the distraction. It’s also lightweight and portable, so that they can take it when they go on trips.
  • Some seniors face mobility issues and may not get an adequate amount of sunlight and vitamin D, thus often causing deficiencies in calcium. Calcium is a necessary ingredient that supports the body’s bone structure, heart health, and a strong immune system. “Vitamin D Light” would thus be a great gift. These sunlamps provide light and UV rays that trigger Vitamin D production in the skin indoors regardless of what the weather is like outdoors. They are also FDA-approved.
  • Humidifiers are a great way to keep a measured amount of moisture and humidity in the air. Humidifiers can thus help relieve respiratory issues older adults might experience such as allergies, sinus congestion, runny nose and asthma. Many humidifiers can last up to eight hours and more before shutting off.

Sentimental Gifts

Everyone loves to think back to a moment that was special in their lives. It could have been a historical event or a childhood memory, such as the day they got married. Whatever the reminiscence, there are quite a few ideas that will help your parent recall nostalgic occasions:

  • A scrapbook or memory book can be a great and thoughtful gift. Photos can immediately bring a moment back, so adding pictures and knick-knacks makes for a pleasant pastime and gift. Maybe the older person had a favorite television show, so printing pictures from their favorite episodes and writing quotes underneath may also be pleasurable. Personalizing a scrapbook lets them know that effort and time were taken into making the gift, which will also be greatly appreciated. It might also be a great way to get their grandchildren and other family members involved., which can make it extra special.
  • Memory journals can offer tools to help jog their memory. These journals have in-depth questions that aid in record keeping. Some of the topics include family events, life lessons, historical events, religious beliefs and more. Upon completion, these books can be nicely personalized and handed down.
  • Another gift sure to please many grandparents is a recording tape, video or book from their grandchildren. The grandkids can record a simple story and then send it to their grandparent. They can also be personalized with pictures and words.

Dot It Yourself (DIY) Gifts

In addition to some of these creative ideas, we must not forget the DIY gift. With a little ingenuity, you can make a present that will warm your loved one’s heart.

  • Homemade gift certificates are great for silly tasks and/or more practical ones. This will be a labor of love that won’t go overlooked.
  • A monogrammed mug is a very inexpensive gift that only requires scissors, a pen, tape, graphite transfer paper, a black porcelain pen in fine point, and a printout with his or her initials.
  • Other personalized art projects can be a ton of fun both to create and receive (see Pinterest for inspiration and ideas).

Practical Gifts

As we age, everyday tasks such as grabbing a can out of the pantry or squatting to open a cabinet become less easy to perform. And with perhaps recent surgeries or other health-related problems, figuring out how to acquire certain items can be a matter of concern. In addition, maintaining cognitive abilities and faculties is a common concern as we age; studies have shown that continuous learning and engagement as we age may help slow down the processes of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Here are a few specific ideas in that regard:

  • More often than not, seniors show little interest in today’s electronics, opting for example for the traditional button-dialing phone. Big Button Phones are a great option. They have large tabs for visually impaired individuals, as well as speakers and redial functions. Certain phones may include speed-dialing settings. The phone can be wall mounted or set on the table at the convenience of the person you are gifting.
  • Wrap up a Reacher/Grabber; it’s quick and ready for their individual needs.
  • Another helpful gift for those in their golden years would be a Gift Certificate to a cleaning service. Allow them the option of relaxing while the service gives their home a professional cleaning. If you can use some help finding a cleaning service near you, visit MollyMaid.com.
  • Give them the gift of learning by enrolling them in classes. Many are offered at local community centers and colleges, and some are lifelong learning programs geared specifically towards older adults. These can be great opportunities for socializing as well.
  • As previously stated, visual impairments have a significant impact on one’s quality of life in their prime. If no proper measure is taken, there is a greater chance for a variety of mishaps to occur. Many consider a light hand-held magnifier a saving grace since it enlarges and shines light on words they otherwise would have trouble seeing.
  • Audio impairment can be quite irritating, and replaying a scene or raising the volume can also be a bit of a nuisance for others nearby. A wireless headphone can offer help. This device helps the senior understand the television and dialogue. They also drown out background noise, eliminating distractions. It also lowers audio spikes that come for example with commercials.
  • If the older adult in your life enjoys books but has difficulties holding them, a book rest might be appreciated. Depending on where you shop, these come in a variety of sizes and colors, with pockets and bookmarks.
  • Dexterity Kits can be useful tools to help navigate the everyday living chores. These kits include a key turner, zipper and button puller, pen and pencil cushions, spoon and fork holder, and lamp switch holders.
  • Many seniors have mobility challenges, so giving them a handybar for vehicles is a great way for them to gain confidence and independence. Simply slide the tool in the door latch. Some of these come with window breakers and/or seatbelt-cutters for emergencies.

Entertainment Gifts

Older adults love being entertained as much as the next person. Here are few ideas that you can personalize for your loved ones:

  • A fun gift that they are sure to enjoy are tickets to concerts or plays or to view their favorite performers in action. Maybe they love a particular sports team and would enjoy going to see a game. You may spend a bit more, but a fun day or evening out can be a priceless experience that you can enjoy together.
  • Audio books offer great convenience for those with visual impairments. Audible.com and other websites offer thousands of books and, typically, the first month’s subscription is free and is reasonable thereafter. Audiobooks can also be purchased at book stores.
  • For those that prefer a more hands-on approach to reading, a monthly magazine subscription might be a great option. There are tons to pick from, so make sure you get a magazine that will be enjoyed by your special person.
  • Game books are often some of the most fun and thought-provoking gifts for seniors, and they also happen to promote cognition. They come in large print and typically include a crossword puzzle, word search, sudoku, and other mixed games.
  • Music is a big part of life for many people, and listening to music has been found to lower anxiety and depression. Ipods and MP3 players are great for their portability and storage space. They are also very easy to use: all you need to do is pre-download your loved one’s favorite music. If by chance they show little interest in the mp3, another option would be a portable radio. There are no tiny buttons, hard to read electronic displays or other confusing items. This high-quality gift offers easy listening to their favorite AM/FM stations. Research has even suggested that listening to music they previously enjoyed can help provide individuals with dementia with moments of greater calm and clarity.

Final Thoughts

As we do throughout our lives, seniors work hard at preserving their self-esteem and often desire to maintain as autonomous a lifestyle as is possible, no matter how dependent they may become due to mental or physical limitations with age. Thus, facilitating activities and daily tasks and reducing the chances of injury are important components to consider when selecting practical gifts. With all of the information that has been provided, hopefully you are well on your way to finding the cherished older adults in your life a great gift for Christmas, birthdays, and every occasion.

And while it’s nice to receive a present every now and then, many older adults appreciate time with loved ones far more than any gadget or device. If you really cannot think of any worthwhile gift, perhaps spending an afternoon watching a show they enjoy, cooking their favorite meal, or taking them to their favorite restaurant will brighten their day. Some of the best gifts consist of quality time with family and friends.

Posted 
August 3, 2017
 in 
Caregiver Resources
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