The holiday season can be a stressful time, especially when it comes to shopping for gifts. To help, we asked members of our care team for shopping advice. Team members from all over the country came up with 30 great gift ideas for senior loved ones. Whether you’re looking for an elaborate gift or a great last minute gift, we’ve got something that’s right for you and your elderly loved one.
“CD’s make great gifts! Classical music or relaxing nature sounds are two genres that I would highly recommend. For a more personal touch, gift the soundtrack from your loved one’s favorite movie or musical!”
– Michelle Mitchell R.N, MSN, Director of Nursing in Fairfax, Virginia
“Custom T-shirts or humorous socks are always a hit! These gifts are both useful and fun. There are hundreds of sock patterns to choose from so you can find a print that matches your loved one’s personality.”
– Theresa Sanchez, Home Care Liaison in Lake Oswego, Oregon
“Last year I gave my mother and mother-in-law an Echo Dot. I loaded the app “my buddy” into it. It is a wonderful app for seniors that calls and texts their emergency contacts if the senior calls out to it. It gives me a sense of security knowing that if my mother falls she just has to call out “My Buddy Call Joann.” I also put in Pandora and set up music from her era. I added trivia apps and old radio shows that she grew up listening to.”
– Joann Manole, Head of Operations in Bergen County, New Jersey
“I think giving a gift of personalized artwork goes a long way! On Amazon, ‘Heart and Heart Personalized Artwork’ will create a beautiful sunset at the beach with any names you would like written in the sand with a heart around each name. Not only will it hang beautifully on the wall but personalizing it will be a great touch!”
– Nina Mohmood, Care Advisor
“I love to give gifts that keep on giving. Personalized DVD’s of family videos or slideshows with pictures of loved ones are always fantastic. An iPod loaded with your loved one’s favorite tunes is another great idea and brings with it the healing power of music, as shown in the documentary an aging ‘Alive Inside’. Taking your senior loved one on a special outing is also a great way to show how much you care. Attend a local concert, organize a picnic in the park, or drive him or her to a scenic location nearby; I promise it will be a lot of fun and you can take plenty of pictures for next year’s customized DVD!”
– Francie Bedinger, Client Care Manager in Marin, California
“Tickets to an event that you can attend together and perhaps a restaurant gift card are always a great idea. Both can be done online and spending time together is usually what family members value most!”
– Carrie Burggraf, Home Care Liaison in Saint Louis, Missouri
“Give an in-home spa day! A spa basket is a great way to pamper a loved one who is home-bound. Fill your basket with items like essential oils, a diffuser, comfy socks, and Epsom salts. You can also include their favorite snack items or a gift card for a home delivery meal service like GrubHub. If it’s in the budget, you can even order an in-home massage through companies like Soothe. What a great way to bring the spa to a loved one who can’t go there!”
– Elaina Davis, Care Advisor
“Seniors I’ve worked with seem to love flameless luminaire candles. They are safe and beautiful. Adult coloring books with scented Jell colored pens are also great. (Regular markers and colored pencils stink.) Even something as simple as clothing can be a great gift. I have a client in an assisted living facility who had no clothes. I went shopping and bought several outfits which those caring for her loved and appreciated, as did the client. Finally, an Ipad with the free app JIGIDI is another idea. The app lets seniors do jigsaw puzzles with their own pictures.”
– Ruthann Devine, Head of Operations in Annapolis, Maryland
“Gifts can be simple and meaningful at the same time. A framed photo of a loved one in his or her heyday or a framed version of his or her family tree are great ways to reminisce. If you want to take your loved one out, I would recommend going to a theater for a play or musical performance.”
– Bridget Lynch, Director of Client Services
“Photo blankets of family or pets are great or tickets for a play, concert, or museum that they really like. Go on a lunch date to their favorite restaurant or try somewhere new together. Spa baskets with lavender massage lotion or oils with a cold/warm compress are soothing gifts. Personalized wind chimes can be a great way to remember the loss of a loved one.”
– Jessica Pascasio, Head of Operations in Corona Del Mar, California
“A clock with a large display screen that shows the date, time, weather etc is a useful gift for seniors. Good slippers that have a non-slip soles keep seniors comfortable and less likely to fall.”
– Francesca Vogel, Home Care Liaison in Alamo, California
“Framed photographs are a great idea; I love to take it up a notch by ordering the big canvas prints from Costco. They look beautiful and are easier for those who are visually impaired to see. A more costly item, but worth every penny, is an Ipad for FaceTiming with family members who don’t live nearby. Audiobooks are also fantastic for stimulating the mind without having to read fine print.”
– Jesse Walters, Director of Operations for Washington and San Francisco Bay Area
“Put together a basket of goodies based on what they like best. I’d include two goat milk soaps, 30ml of lotion, cologne/perfume, and candles – all in their favorite scents.”
– Efren Berioso, Staffing Manager in Corona Del Mar, California
10 Best Gift Ideas for Seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer’s
We spoke with our Cognitive Interventionist, Michelle Wile, to bring you the best gifts for seniors with memory impairment. Here are her top two aspects to consider when giving a gift to a senior with dementia:
- Overstimulation. If you are giving gifts in a large family setting, it may be overstimulating to actually try the gift in that moment. As hard as it may be, try to be prepared for an underwhelmed reaction. Remember that there are lots of factors affecting how your loved one responds in that moment.
- Safety. Make sure new items aren’t tripping hazards or choking hazards if small pieces end up on the floor or are mistaken for a food item.
“Don’t stress to much about how to explain or introduce the items to your loved ones. If you are enthusiastic and begin engaging with the materials chances are your loved one will follow your lead,” says Wile.
Try one of these great gift ideas for your loved one with dementia:
- Joy for All companion pets. These are life-like pets that move and make sounds like a real cat or dog. They are great for individuals with more advanced dementia who are no longer able to have a pet but enjoy the company of an animal pal.
- Reminiscing books. Try 1950’s Fashion or The Splendor of Babies or another topic of interest. These are books with large, engaging pictures and limited to no text.
- Reminisce Magazine by Reader’s Digest. This is a magazine written for and by seniors. It includes stories about events, cars, fashion, pop culture and more from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s.
- Washable Paint Brush Pens. These pens are low-mess and easy to manipulate. The paint is contained in the pen and they have a large grip base. A perfect gift for creative individuals.
- Games for the whole family. Give Connect 4, UNO, Scrabble or Pop-Up board games a try.
- Indoor sporting activities. Indoor bean bag toss, horseshoes or golf are fun for seniors to do with grandkids.
- Personalized puzzle. Upload a family photo to Active-minds and they will create a puzzle with 13, 24 or 35 pieces. The larger pieces are more manageable for individuals with cognitive decline.
- Lacing cards. These are a great activity for those with advanced dementia who enjoy keeping their hands busy.
- Music. Try a compilation CD from the decade when they were in their late teens through early 20’s. A smart speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home can be linked to a playlist of favorites, but consider what will be most easily accessible for your loved one or their daily care partners. Sometimes a very basic CD player actually gets the most use.
- Table Topics. These are fun conversation starter cards that can help you have more quality time with your loved one.
We hope that the advice we’ve shared helps you find the perfect gift for your loved one this holiday season. Happy Holidays from all of us at Home Care Assistance!
Resources (Where to Buy Gifts for a Loved One with Memory Impairment):
Joy For All Companion Pet
The Splendor of Babies
Indoor Bean Bag Toss
Indoor Horse Shoes
Indoor Putting Course
Active Minds Puzzle
Greatest Songs of the 1940s
Table Topics Question Cards