Thought Leadership

Holiday gift ideas for the older adult on your list



The holidays are a time of joy, love and giving. It’s the perfect opportunity to brighten the season for an older adult by choosing a meaningful and useful gift. But finding the perfect gift for a beloved older adult – parent, grandparent or friend – can be a challenge.

On the one hand, it’s tough to buy something for a person who seemingly has everything or, more commonly, insists they don’t need more stuff. Stuff is clutter, clutter makes life more complicated and complications are stressful. They might not want gifts that become “dust collectors.”

gifts for the elderlyOn the other hand, some older adults who are on modest, fixed incomes may need essentials for daily living. They will appreciate gifts that help out financially while also reminding them that they are loved by friends and family

Either way, consider gift ideas that can make their lives easier, fun and more meaningful.

Give technology

Don’t assume that anyone is “too old” for technology, especially when it can make daily living easier, safer and give them access to services than can enhance their lives.

  • Smart home systems can play music, read a book aloud, set appointments, keep track of grocery lists, receive medication reminders, have wake-up alarms, make a hands-free phone calls,  listen to a weather report and more. These intelligent home systems can be paired with other “smart”  devices to operate home functions by voice command.
  • Digital tracking tags that can easily locate lost keys, wallet, purse, phone, bag, any misplaced items can simply be called through a phone and the attached tags will ring to be located in seconds.
  • A fitness watch is more than a fancy pedometer. Some brand models can serve as a personal emergency alert, medication schedule keeper and daily routine reminder. A fitness watch may also feature pulse and body temperature monitors. Emails, text messages and more can be received by some models.

Give experiences

No one is ever too old to dream! Listen to your loved one; they may express a desire to see a special place, a long-time friend or family mem­bers. Learn what they long for and what makes them happy and then help­ to make their dream come true.

  • A trip to a local place of interest such as a theater or concert performance.
  • An annual membership in the Historical Society, Arboretum or area museums where their membership benefits include free or discounted visits. Membership can include invitations to special events and gives one the opportunity to be part of a community of people with shared interests.
  • Spa gift cards for a massage, mani-pedi and other personal luxuries. These high-touch services have been shown to have a therapeutic benefit for older women and men alike.

Give yourself and your family

The most precious gift of all is your time and attention; finding ways to celebrate together can be very meaningful. Gifts can honor the legacy of an older adult’s life and tell them how they’ve made a difference in yours. Creating and fulfilling such gifts encourages you to spend time as a family, making new memories and talking about old ones.

  • A coupon book of your time and talents for tasks and activities that make their life a little easier. Cleaning a closet, writing a letter, making a favorite pie or taking an outing together are happily redeemed. You can customize the coupon choices to suit your loved one’s interests as well as your time and talent capacity.
  • Capture memories by inviting family members to write brief stories about good things that happened over the years. Stories may be funny, poignant, recall the event everyone talks about or reveal the one thing no one ever knew until now. Gather these stories into a binder, adding old photos of the people and places who have shaped life. Such a collection documents who you are as a family and what happened there that will not be forgotten.
  • Wall calendar that depicts a year in the life of your family in monthly installments or a “friendship calendar” with pictures of them and their friends.  Local printing and office supply stores offer templates and production services to create a single or small-run order.

Give with meaning

A holiday gift is more than just a thing in a box. It symbolizes and reflects the special relationship between the giver and receiver. When we exchange gifts, we share in mutual gratitude, respect and affection for one another. May you thoughtfully choose the gifts you give and may your holidays be delightful and full of joy with the people you love.

Are you or an older adult you love thinking about the next place to call home?  Presbyterian Homes & Services offers 61 senior living communities in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Go to Find a Community to learn more. 



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