Ten Ideas For Gifts For Elderly People

Senior citizens can be hard to buy gifts for. Many have their lives in order, with all their needs catered for. Novelty isn't important to them and the latest gadgets and appliances leave them unmoved. Others might leap at the chance to go skydiving, but are inundated with gifts of slippers and soap. Practical gifts to ease old age can be useful, but may only serve to remind people of advancing years. Here are some ideas for gifts, geared towards older people and their interests, attitudes and needs.

  • Magazine subscriptions are truly gifts that keep on giving and the giver is spoilt for choice. Magazines that are published weekly or fortnightly are especially good for older people with few highlights in their routine. Whether it's a magazine that caters for senior citizens, something to flip through without requiring too much concentration or a specialist magazine on an engaging topic, there's bound to be something out there for the older reader.
  • Audio books are ideal for people with impaired vision. From the classics to contemporary works, there's a wide range. There are also many subscription services that offer a huge choice of DVDs by post: ideal for the older person who finds that contemporary TV doesn't cater for their tastes.
  • Genealogy research, which has flourished with the internet, is a hobby that many people become interested in when they are older. A book or magazine subscription and the gift of time to help them with their family history research (essential for seniors who don't like computers) can engage older people and be fun for the whole family.
  • Regular organic food parcels delivered to the door are a great gift for some people. A box of fresh farm goodies is a great appetite enhancer and an incentive to cook and eat well. Gift membership of a wine club will appeal to others.
  • Gifts that make life easier for older people only really work as gifts if they are not too baldly utilitarian. No one really wants a blood pressure monitor for Christmas. Practical gifts are best if they also have a luxury component. A memory pillow is a good functional gift that becomes special if dressed up in a luxury pillowcase.
  • Psychological research has shown that listening to the music we loved in our youth gives a mental boost. It may need some preparation and subtle enquiring but, especially with downloadable music, you can compile a CD of favourite tracks that will have a mood-enhancing effect.
  • Many older people have trouble with small-button devices, such as remote controls. A large button remote control on its own isn't very exciting, so twin it with a DVD or a treat to eat while watching TV.
  • Not all elderly people like pottering about with plants, but they add cheer and vitality to any environment. As importantly, looking after plants can motivate those older people who are inclined to slip into inactivity. Bulbs can be beautiful and fragrant but food-yielding plant kits can be useful too. Apart from herbs, easy options include mushrooms, strawberries and sprouts (not just for hippies and vegans and no longer limited to lentils). Bonsai trees are another decorative option.
  • A framed collage of photos of family members, friends, special occasions and places is a cheerful, thoughtful, inexpensive gift. Seniors are often particularly tuned in to the truth of the old adage that it's the thought that counts .
  • Major games manufacturers haven't forgotten the older market. Small hand-held consoles offer diverting brain games that have health benefits as well as being entertaining. Classic games like Sudoku, Scrabble and card games like bridge - all available as hand-held games - also offer a more mentally active alternative to watching TV.

If you have an elderly friend or relative who says 'Oh, I don't want anything for my birthday/Christmas' then sometimes you might want to take them at their word. Try giving them the option of donating a present to charity. Many of the big charities offer opportunities to buy things for those in trouble or poverty. Giving the opportunity to give to others can be the most rewarding gift of all.

author: Anne Solomon

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