The task of gift giving may feel even more stressful this year in light of the impact that COVID-19 has had on individuals and families. The older adults in our lives may have already received a lifetime of gifts, which makes it even more difficult to come up with ideas for a truly valuable and purposeful gift.

However, it is still possible to find meaningful gifts for those we love, especially to help an older adult maintain their health and safety. Here are some practical gift giving ideas to help bring a little more joy and comfort to their lives this year.

With social distancing measures still in effect and people spending more time at home, gifts that connect people and keep their home safe and comfortable can help lessen the impact this pandemic has had on them physically and emotionally. Here are some ideas for every budget.

Gifts that ease tension and relieve stress

  • Trouble sleeping? Weighted blankets just may be an option to allow your loved one better sleep quality. Weighted blankets have been shown to reduce anxiety and promote calm by allowing a person more restful and rejuvenating sleep. The benefits of a weighted blanket is that it gives the feeling of deep touch pressure. which has been shown to promote a calming effect in persons with anxiety and reduces pain associated with other health conditions. Weighted blankets are available from a wide array of retailers. A few specialty retailers carry a full line of blankets for every age. Companies such as Layla, SensaCalm, and Mosaic are just a few.
  • Aromatherapy gifts may be an option to help your loved one find effective stress relief and increase their overall feelings of general well-being. Aromatherapy uses specific scents to deliver simple, but powerful positive effects for stress relief. Smells can also evoke parts of the brain which control our moods and memory. Popular scents which have been shown to promote calm and relieve stress include: lavender, rosemary, and peppermint. The great news is these scents can be found in many products to fit your budget. Essential oils are commonly used in scented lotions, pillow sprays, room diffusers, and diffuser jewelry. Many discount retailers such as Walgreens, CVS, and Target offer these products in-store or online. Companies specializing in aromatherapy products include Plant Therapy, RoyAroma, and DoTerra. Many products are just a click away on Amazon too!

Gifts that promote peace of mind

  • 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. One such alert system, the Nest Protect, will send you or your loved one a message if the alarm goes off.
  • 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 2 is one way to safely screen visitors or receive alerts when welcomed or unexpected visitor arrive. Nest Secure is another system which allows your home to be protected while your loved one is home or away too.
  • Lost your house key or locked out? Smart door lock systems are becoming more accessible and user friendly. Lock and unlock your home using controlled keyless access. Many have added features which allow a mobile user to see who has visited their mom or dad right from their phone. One brand, the August Smart Lock Pro, actually sends an alert if the door is left ajar. If you loved one is not as tech savvy, a key finder may be the right fit. Most key finders use radio frequency to help trigger an alert to where the missing house keys may be. Some models work up to 300 feet away. Home alone can now be safer too.
  • Making sure our loved ones are taking the proper medications at the correct time can also be a great concern. Pill organizers with reminder alarms can also be a practical gift giving option for anyone who could benefit from the extra safeguard of being reminded when to take scheduled medications. These pill organizers can be customized to hold daily, weekly, or monthly medications. Setting the right schedule can create extra peace of mind that they are adhering to their doctor’s recommendation for timing their medications too.

Gifts that provide comfort and ease

  • With spending more time at home, little luxuries can go a long way. Creating a personal care package with your loved one’s favorite things can also lift their spirits and bring a little extra warmth this holiday season. A soft blanket throw, a pair of non-skid slippers, an eye glass holder, or even postage stamps can be just the option for the practical older adult in your life. Perhaps your loved one would enjoy and benefit from a big button universal remote to channel surf while watching their favorite shows. Pre-programming the device can go the extra mile too in allowing your loved one to enjoy it right away.
  • Single serve coffee or tea makers make brewing a cup of comfort a whole lot easier. Most single serve machines are simple and easy to use. Your favorite older adult can brew a single cup in minutes without wasting an entire pot, too.
  • Grocery delivery services: Shopping for groceries can be challenging. Many retail stores now offer same day delivery for food and other essentials so an older individual does not have to go to the store. These services can help your loved one stay healthy by delivering fresh foods directly to their doorstep. Additionally, services such as meal kit deliveries, offer older adults healthy recipe ideas and simple step-by-step directions to cook nutritious meals for themselves.

Gifts that keep on giving

  • Cooking can be a difficult task as we age. The hassle of cooking for one or two can consume a whole lot of time in preparation and clean-up. Consider cooking and freezing make-ahead meals of favorite dishes your loved one enjoys. Single serve portions can be easily packed to allow them ease with reheating. In addition, if your loved one has specific dietary restrictions or food preferences, catering to their specific taste can be accomplished in a thoughtful way.
  • Is housekeeping or lawn care becoming a burden for an older adult? Giving the gift of raking leaves or removing snow can help in a big way to keep your loved one safe and in their home. Services could be arranged for one-time or recurring depending on their need. Who wouldn’t like their floors scrubbed?
  • Delivery of the month clubs can be the perfect way to give the gift that keeps on giving. Fresh fruits, gourmet foods, self-care and spa gifts, or even craft kits can be customized and preordered to allow your loved one 12 months of surprises. Gift kits come in all price ranges which is an added benefit. Subscriptions can be personalized too to allow you to send your older adult uplifting gifts all year long, too!

Gifts that promote connection

  • 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. Photo gifts can be a great way of taking cherished photos and reviving them in a new way. Restoring old photos can be a great way to reminisce with your loved one too.
  • 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: Services such as The Grand Pad Tablet, ViewClix, and Google Nest Hub + Duo are other ways older adults who want to stay in touch can start video chatting with family and friends. They allow older adults to easily browse 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, Lively Flip, and Smart2 mobile phones offer easy to use features, display and 5Star urgent response which offer safety and security, too. Picture phones also make it easy for people to quickly identify their loved ones they need to connect with also. 

As you can see, there are many gift giving options to cater to the particular needs of the older adults in our lives. There are plenty of gifts to make them feel special while also offering practicality and functionality. While the pandemic distancing has changed the way we connect with others, time spent talking with the older adults you cherish most, even if remote, can be the best gift of all.

This is the second year in a row that Michelle McCann, director of quality and risk at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Sewickley has offered up gift suggestions for older adults. Find more ideas from our 2019 list.

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