Gifts that keep on giving: Our holiday shopping guide for older adults

Dementia Health & Wellness Patient & Caregiver Resources Patient safety
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Close-up of hands of senior and young woman holding a present at Christmas time.

Holiday shopping can be stressful. As difficult as it is to find that special gift for a child, it can be even more difficult finding that meaningful gift for a special older adult in your life. Coming up with ideas for grandparents or other older adults you wish to recognize can be challenging.  Here are some practical gift giving ideas to help your loved one or simply bring a smile to their face during this holiday season!

Gifts that engage

  • Brain games: Puzzles and games provide numerous health benefits for all ages. Exercising our brain keeps it mentally sharp and promotes productive engagement in lifelong activities.  Concentration, memory, attention and problem solving skills are just a few cognitive benefits that can be improved by challenging your brain to focus.  
  • Autobiographical journals: Guided journals can be the perfect gift for the older adult who appreciates writing and wants to preserve past memories for the generations that follow.  Journaling is an organized way of reminiscing about past and present events in order to share that family history with others.  
  • Genealogy kits: Genealogy kits are a great way to discover your roots and learn more about your heritage no matter what age group. Popular kits include 23andMe Ancestry Kit and Ancestry DNA Genetic Kit.  
  • Activity basket: An activity basket is the perfect gift for a loved one living with dementia as they help engage all five senses through fun, simple tasks. Fill the basket with items like adult coloring books, painting materials, plastic flowers for arranging or even socks to sort and match. Make this gift even more special by doing these activities side-by-side with them. 

Gifts that connect

  • Technology Gadgets: Technology devices are ever changing, and many are becoming easier and easier to use. Devices such as the Amazon Echo Show aim to connect friends and family to each other through easy access to pictures, movies and information across the web. The Amazon Echo or Amazon Echo Dot are other ways that offer voice controlled, hands-free access to their favorite books, news, weather and can even be used to set helpful reminders. Smart lights that respond to remote or voice commands are another fun gadget that offer convenience and safety for loved ones. 
  • Custom photo calendars and digital picture frames: Helping your loved one stay connected to special events and appointments can be important, so why not attach your smiling face! Custom printed photo calendars can be particularly beneficial for a family member or friend with early-stage dementia as it helps them stay organized while enjoying the memories and familiar faces of those they love at the same time. Want to share family photos in near real time? Digital photo frames are another way of allowing your loved one to easily view family photos or special occasions. An automatic slideshow can help them feel connected to family and can be updated to make them feel they are close at heart while they may be miles away.
  • Video and phone devices: The Grand Pad Tablet is yet another way older adults who want to stay in touch can start video chatting with family and friends. In addition, it allows older adults ease with browsing the internet without being complicated. Need another way to stay connected? Several new phones allow seniors the convenience of smart phone technology. The Great Call Jitterbug Flip and Smart2 mobile phones offer easy to use features, display and 5Star urgent response which offer safety and security, too. Picture phones also offer ease for persons to quickly identify their loved ones they need to connect with also. 

Gifts that support independence

  • Specialized clothing and shoes: Specialized clothing makes life easier for someone with limited mobility, arthritis or other chronic health conditions dress with ease. Adaptive shoes and slippers can offer support for persons with foot pain, swelling or diabetes. New brands of slippers offer non-skid soles for mobility around the home without sacrificing comfort. Specialty jewelry is another way to help your loved one be fashionable with a purpose. Magnifying glass necklaces and talking watches are practical accessories for people who may have visual loss or low vision, as well as medical alert devices that double as stylish bracelets, necklaces and wallet cards. 
  • Personal care totes: Accessories can be added to walking devices to ensure your loved one will have essential items when they need them. Walker caddies or tote bags now come in a variety of fun colors to keep everything within easy reach. Attachable water bottles can make staying hydrated a breeze when on the go by walker or wheelchair. These simple attachments can help your older loved one stay independent and healthy this winter.  
  • Transfer aides: Getting in and out of a car can be rough. Simple tools such as the Handy Bar Auto Standing Aide can help individuals get in and out of the car with ease. This portable device may just be the extra support your loved one needs to safely get in and out of the car. Grab bars and railings can also be installed in areas like bathrooms, bedrooms and hallways to help loved ones safely move throughout the home as well. 
  • Grocery delivery services: Shopping for groceries can be challenging. Many retail stores now offer same day delivery for food and other essentials. These services can help your loved one stay healthy by delivering fresh foods directly to their doorstep. Additionally, services such as meal kit services, offer older adults healthy recipe ideas and simple step-by-step directions to cook nutritious meals for themselves.  

Gifts that promote activity

  • On-demand ride programs: Drive-share services such as Lyft and Uber now have gift cards. On-demand rides are a convenient way for older adults to get to events or important appointments without dependence on family or friends. GoGo Grandparent is a newer service that does not require an individual to even use a smartphone or an app. Silver Ride Service offers door-to-door transportation and accompanied pick-ups. Whether your loved one needs to run errands or just wants to visit, ride share programs can promote getting out of the house.  
  • Personal fitness trackers: Fitbit and other wearable devices offer older adults options in staying fit. Fitness trackers can be a great motivation in helping to promote walking activity. Trackers can also perform other functions ,such as monitoring heart rate and sleep patterns too. 
  • Gift certificates: Who doesn’t love a gift certificate? Personal services, such as hair styling services, pedicure or a favorite restaurant never go out of style. Local gyms, museums and cultural events may also have special programs and accessibility options to fit your loved one’s lifestyle, too. 

Gifts that provide security  

  • Home security features: Ideas such as video doorbell systems provide motion activated alerts that are easy to install but can offer security to your loved one. Ring Video Doorbell is one way to safely screen visitors or receive alerts when welcomed or unexpected visitor arrive.  
  • Home detectors: Fire/smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are one way to protect your loved one inside their home. Newer devices also offer additional alert mechanisms for persons with sensory loss such as hearing loss by providing visual alerts, too.  

Taylor Schipper, content manager for Encompass Health – Home Health & Hospice, contributed to this report.

The content of this site is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical conditions or treatments.