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Practical, Economical Gifts for Seniors Most Popular, Say Retailer and Local Senior-Care Company

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This year's economic slowdown doesn't need to take a toll on your holiday gift-shopping budget for seniors, according to a local senior-care expert and national retailer. Representatives from Home Instead and the Mall of America say that the most popular gifts for older adults this season are practical items that are most often economical as well.

"Based on our experience, seniors most often gravitate toward the practical in gift requests, but those preferences will become even more relevant this holiday season as budgets tighten for shoppers and senior gift recipients alike," said Lori Hogan, Co-Founder of Home Instead. "We expect that many seniors will want gift cards to grocery stores, discount stores and restaurants and, if they're still driving, gas cards."

Personal items are popular as well, according to Dan Jasper, spokesman for the Mall of America. "We see seniors frequenting book stores and shops that sell candles, homemade soaps and personal pampering items such as lotions, slippers and robes," said Jasper, whose world-renowned Mall hosts 17 million shoppers between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

Another popular item is a gift basket, which can be purchased at most any discount store, Jasper said. "I see people shopping the Mall putting together baskets for their grandparents. Maybe grandma loves to knit or sew so those tools are included in the basket along with candy and a nice scented candle," he noted. Scrapbook stores and suppliers draw many who are looking to customize a gift for seniors, and photo and family albums are popular as well, according to Jasper.

Home Instead's Lori Hogan said that results of a gift-giving analysis by the company are consistent with the type of senior gift preferences that the Mall of America tracks. But the gifts of time and companionship also cannot be underestimated.

"Seniors shouldn't be alone at any time of year, but especially not during the holidays," Hogan said. "That's why if you can't be with a loved one, it's important to arrange for family, friends and neighbors to help, or to hire companionship to ensure that seniors get out and about. Gift certificates for Home Instead services, popular during the holidays, are presents that can ensure the gift of companionship."

Jasper, a former nursing home industry fundraiser and PR manager, said he witnesses the value of togetherness during the holidays at the Mall of America. "I think the main thing if possible is to spend time with seniors and there is a lot to do at any mall, especially during the holidays, when special musical events and programs are often scheduled. I also see families enjoying lunch with their senior loved ones," Jasper noted.

"One adult child whose senior parents walk at the Mall three times a week during winter joined them a few times and observed the shops they liked and the items they needed. She came up with some nice gifts such as clothes for working out. But the seniors saw that time spent with their daughter was a gift, too."

It's especially important to help seniors guard against isolation during the holidays, Home Instead's Hogan said. "So gifts that accomplish more than one action
– such as a gift card to a restaurant that provides not only a meal but an excuse to go out
– will benefit your loved ones in a big way."

10 Popular and Economical Gifts for Seniors

What's on your senior's wish list this holiday season? The following list provides valuable insight. An analysis of more than 12,000 senior gift requests conducted by Home Instead reveals that these are some of the most popular holiday wishes of older adults.

  1. Gift certificates to restaurants and grocery stores, or gas cards for seniors who drive
  2. Personal items such as hand and body lotions, shower gels and scented candles
  3. Blankets, robes and slippers
  4. Books and magazine subscriptions
  5. Crossword and puzzle books and pencils
  6. Hats, mittens and gloves
  7. Towels and wash cloths
  8. Boxed chocolates, chocolate-covered cherries and hard candies
  9. Stamps and stationery
  10. Gift certificate for companionship services

For more information about how families are finding practical, economic gifts for seniors this holiday, contact Dan Wieberg, Public Relations Manager at 888-484-5759.

Last revised: January 6, 2011

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. November 17, 2011 at 8:33 am | Posted by Caroline Duxbury

    Even though the senior may say they don't want decorations because it's "too much trouble", they do enjoy them. So if at all possible ensure at least a little holiday cheer is displayed, especially family keepsake decorations. Just be sure the decorations are safe - no cords across the floor, items placed out of pathways and not on edges of tables/counters.


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