As if gift shopping for the holidays wasn’t already stressful enough, COVID-19 has kicked it up a notch (or two). Warnings seem to come out daily about ordinary items that are in short supply, from everyday necessities to cars, electronics, toys, and housewares. For those of you who normally procrastinate—watch out, this year is really going to be challenge for you. Shop and buy now or you’ll have some very disappointed loved ones of all ages this holiday season!
Thoughtful gift ideas for seniors
Giving your senior parents slippers or a robe as a holiday or birthday gift is like giving children clothes or your husband a tie. If they really wanted or needed these items, they would have them. And yet, knowing what to buy—for either your finicky folks or elder loved ones who seemingly have everything—can be a challenge. I hope these ideas help!
When I worked with elderly women and men in an adult day care center and a nursing home, everyone would look forward to their birthdays, the December holidays, and the exchange of gifts. Invariably, they would share their disappointment afterward when the typical gift was a pair of slippers, a robe, an umbrella…you get the idea. These somewhat unimaginative gifts can send a message that either, “I didn’t really put much thought into this.” or “What could you possibly need at your age?”
Why not try to be a bit more creative this year by considering some of these gift suggestions for the senior woman or man in your life? With price options for any shopper, the gift ideas listed below range in cost from under $25 to over $100.
Don’t necessarily steer away from technology gifts for the over 65 crowd. There are plenty of options that can be easy to use and greatly improve one’s quality of life—some specially designed as assistive devices or gadgets for seniors who want to remain independent.
- Power lift chair
- Video doorbell
- Jitterbug cell phone (with large buttons, louder speakers, easy features, and quick-connect emergency response system—Over 50 percent of all people over 65 own cell phones!)
- Alexa Show or Google Assistant enabled device
- Captioned telephone (for the hearing impaired)
- Talking watch
- Motion sensors (for nighttime safety)
- Key finder tiles
Keepsakes to make them smile
As we get older, the volume of personal belongings and “stuff” accumulated over a lifetime can start to feel overwhelming. No matter, there is always room and appreciation for a personalized, heartfelt memento of your most important memories and the people you love.
- Nixplay digital picture frame
- A family portrait with your loved one in it
- Personalized items like a family photo calendar, blanket, or picture frame
- Custom photo jigsaw puzzle
- Restoration of an old favorite photo
- StoryWorth subscription to record life memories
- PaintYourLife.com – a custom hand painted portrait
Relaxation gifts for seniors
They may not be working 9 to 5 anymore, but retirees still experience aches and pains and the stresses of change, uncertainty, and loss. Consider giving your loved one the gift of comfort, or a little time-out to refresh and renew.
- Electric paraffin wax spa (fabulous for comforting arthritic hands, wrists, and elbows)
- Heated throw blanket
- Raised window planter (for those who miss gardening)
- Mani/pedi gift certificate
- A set of new sheets
Not-so-essential gifts (for the senior who has it all)
Sometimes good gifts for seniors aren’t something they necessarily need, but an item that they didn’t know they would want! Think about how you could surprise your loved one with something that makes their life easier or more enjoyable.
- Oven-ready home delivered gourmet meal subscription, like Freshly, Home Bistro, or Magic Kitchen
- Rideshare account with Uber or Lyft
- Netflix subscription with a big button remote control
- Zipper puller
- Grab and reach tool
- At-home putting green game
- Restaurant or grocery home delivery gift certificate
- A subscription to MasterClass.com (unlimited video access to 100+ instructors ranging from musicians to cooks to philosophers)
- Grandparent Talk cards (conversation starters)
- A plot of land in Ireland
- A gift box of teas
- A charm with each family members’ name on a bracelet or necklace
- A homemade gift basket with favorite treats, toiletries, photos, crossword puzzles, etc.
And the very best gift of all, that costs nothing—the gift of your time! Visit often, plan to have lunch together (in or out of doors), and, if possible, please do take them shopping for your gifts! Many elders have expressed to me how sad they are that they are no longer able to go gift shopping for their loved ones.
It is not as fulfilling to give cash or a check. If your senior loved one isn’t mobile enough to go out to eat and on a (modified) shopping spree, you can help them feel more engaged in the joy of giving by visiting with a lunch and helping them shop online for the gifts they would like to give their children, grandchildren, and friends.
original publication date: November 2020
updated: November 2021