Twelve Gift Ideas For Seniors Who (Think) They Have Everything

Twelve Gift Ideas For Seniors Who (Think) They Have Everything

December 9, 2019

Ask your parents or grandparents what they want for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza and you’re likely to hear some version of “I have everything I need; don’t waste your money.” That’s actually true if past gifts have been things like cologne, bric-a-brac, or yet another pair of house slippers. So let’s think outside the gift box and consider some gifts that they really do need – even if they don’t realize it.

These twelve senior gift ideas can help increase your loved one’s quality of life, health, and safety.

1. Personal Playlist


Everyone loves music – especially the songs they grew up with. The memories last a lifetime: most patients with advanced dementia can still sing along with their favorite songs. Take an hour or two of musical favorites from “back in the day” or purchase new copies of favorite albums.  The format you use (CD, USB drive, etc.) depends on what listening device is available.

2. Digital Photo Frame

digital frame

Why just have one family photo when you could display dozens using the same amount of space?  A digital photo frame saves space and adds variety. Some of the newer frames can load/update photos using a wifi connection or email photo attachments, but the most basic ones use internal memory and a USB port. Simply use the USB connection to load photos into the frame’s memory.

3. Adult Coloring Books

Don’t laugh: plenty of adults of all ages enjoy coloring just as much as your pre-schooler! Adult coloring has exploded in popularity, and seems to help people manage stress and anxiety while fostering creativity.

4. Transportation Vouchers/Gift Certificates

Social isolation and loneliness affects physical and mental health. Isolated seniors are more likely to suffer from depression, heart disease, and more severe cognitive decline than their more connected peers. But seniors who don’t drive or can’t afford to pay for transportation either have to depend on friends/family for rides. Many don’t want to feel like they’re a “burden,” so they just stay home.

Transportation-related gift options include bus or train passes in areas with robust public transportation. Alternatively, a ride-sharing gift certificate for Lyft or Uber can be a good option for seniors with smartphones.

5. Universal TV Remote

Many seniors spend a lot of time at home, and TV is a favorite form of entertainment. It can also be a source of frustration. The TV, the DVR, Roku, and cable – each has its own remote!  Where is the one you need, when you need it?  If you find it, can you read all those tiny buttons?

A universal remote may be the answer.  They come in many shapes and sizes. Some are strictly for a TV/cable set-up, while others will communicate with a variety of devices. Always check with the cable provider, because not all universal remotes are compatible with all cable boxes. Some come with extra-large buttons that are backlit, making them easy to use in the dark.

6. Home Medical Life Alert Device

The vast majority of seniors want to age in place and live independently. Of course, you want to support their wishes as much as you can, but you worry.  What if there’s a fall or other type of emergency? Who will be there to help?

A medical alert button may be the answer. There’s no need to get to a phone in an emergency. Help is just a button push away. Your relative will immediately be able to talk with a trained operator who can dispatch emergency personnel and alert you to the problem. Some models include fall detection technology and alert the operator automatically if the wearer isn’t conscious or able to push the button.

Be prepared for resistance! Many seniors worry that a medical alert device will make them look old. At Bay Alarm Medical, we have a stylish solution to that concern – Bella Charms! Get tips about how to talk to your loved one about medical alert systems.

7. White Noise Machine for Better Sleep

Sleep deprivation is no fun! It makes you grumpy, forgetful, and contributes to chronic health and cognitive problems.  Environmental noises and other sounds can disrupt sleep. A white noise machine (or smartphone app) can help replace the “bad” sounds with soothing, rhythmic sounds.

8. Smart Speaker or Home Assistant

People of all ages struggle with technology, but especially seniors.  Smart speakers like Google Home or Amazon Echo don’t require a lot of skill to use.  After all, you communicate with them using plain language: “Turn off the lights.” In addition, smart home technology makes life easier for people with physical limitations, which can help them remain independent at home for longer.

9. Restaurant Gift Card or Delivery Gift Card

Eating out is often a luxury for people living on fixed incomes. A gift card to a favorite local restaurant can help your loved one to get out and socialize.

Many people living alone tend to forgo full, healthy meals. Instead, they snack on low-quality convenience foods or skip meals altogether. Home restaurant delivery services like DoorDash, GrubHub, and UberEats pick up and deliver orders from a number of local restaurants.

10. Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets have long been used as a calming device for children with autism or other behavioral issues, but recently they have gained popularity among adults. People report that the blankets help them fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep, and reduce anxiety.

11. Robot Pet

For all the benefits pets offer seniors, they can also present a danger if they disrupt sleep or present a fall hazard. Seniors with dementia often aren’t physically capable of giving a pet the care it needs.  Even so, pets provide real physical and mental health benefits.

Robot pets sound like something out of The Jetsons, but are surprisingly realistic.  They have fur, blink their eyes, lift their paws, and move their heads. Robot dogs bark and robot cats purr. Some models even have a “heartbeat.” They can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

12. Video Chat Device

There are a lot of tablets designed for seniors at a variety of price points. A daily video chat can make all the difference in developing and maintaining a close relationship with family and friends. Your relative can “participate” in family celebrations or enjoy a once a week “long-distance dinner” with your family.

That regular contact helps you give the most important gift anyone can offer: time and attention.

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