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Move Over Fruitcake, Here are Some Holiday Gift Options That Are Sure to Please Seniors

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Gone are the days when holiday gift-giving forced you to resort to Mom’s favorite perfume, another new tie for Dad, and a “jelly of the month” club subscription or a fruitcake for Grandma. Gift-giving options now abound for older adults. Check out this top 10 list for the senior on your holiday list.

1. Check out assistive technology. On the market now are telephones with large buttons, kitchen tools that help slice and dice veggies and open jars, and technology like Amazon Echo – a smart speaker that responds to voice commands using Alexa, an artificially intelligent personal assistant that can answer questions, research the internet, command smart home devices, and stream music. A gift that could help the senior in your life stay independent could be the perfect choice.

2. Help a senior stay connected . . . and at home! The technology to stay connected is another potentially great gift idea. Popular today is Grandpad, a tablet made just for older adults that is designed to help them do just that – stay in touch. Or maybe it’s simply helping an older adult Skype video chat with a loved one who can’t get home for the holidays. Check out these top 10 technologies to help an older adult stay home, which might provide other ideas for holiday gifts.

3. Lend a hand. Carry on the holiday cooking traditions, asking your senior loved one to help where he or she can. Or, ask everyone to bring a favorite family dish. Why not ask your senior for his or her holiday recipes and compile them into a great gift for the entire family – a legacy of delicious family recipes!

4. Shop, wrap and send packages.Your senior likely will want to purchase gifts for family and friends. Whether a trip to the mall or an online shopping spree, make it a special day. Be sure to tune into your loved one’s limitations and don’t overdo. Arthritis can make wrapping those holiday presents a challenge. Schedule a gift-wrapping afternoon, complete with hot chocolate, cookies, and plenty of family stories.

5. Deck the halls. Bending, lifting and reaching to get those holiday decorations in place isn’t always possible for an older adult. Enlist the help of the grandkids and make decorating a fun multi-generational activity.

6. Send holiday greetings and take your loved one shopping. Offer to spend an afternoon helping your loved one address and send holiday cards, either by mail or as online photo greetings.

7. Plan a fun event. Get a group of your senior loved one’s friends together to serenade other older adults in an assisted living facility or nursing home.

8. Celebrate the reason for the season. Attend a religious program with your senior loved one. Be flexible with service times if necessary. If you’ve always attended the midnight services as a family, talk everyone into the 6 p.m. service if it’s easier for Mom. Or, if that’s not possible, watch a service online or check out a favorite movie.

9. Focus on others. Get your senior loved one and the entire family involved in gathering supplies for a homeless shelter or serving a holiday meal. Helping those less fortunate can keep a senior feeling useful.

10. Get help. The holidays can be stressful times for families. Consider additional companionship for your senior and respite help for you by contacting Home Instead to find a local office near you.

And remember, often a personal gesture can bring the most joy and satisfaction to a senior who is just looking for a way to spend more time with the people they love during the holidays. Consider a Holiday Elf Certificate. Customize this gift certificate to give the seniors in your life what they really want – meaningful time spent with you. Personalize your gift offering with one of the provided activity suggestions or come up with one of your own.

Last revised: December 10, 2019

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. November 2, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Posted by Daryl Healy

    You are right on target. My Mom loved spending time with her family. She always remarked that her best times were with family. We would tire her out, but she said it was a good tired!


  2. October 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Posted by Barbara Papitto

    For the past few years, I have done the Christmas shopping for my sister-in-law, who has Alzheimer's. It is important to keep the gifts small and just a thought. Remember, most elderly came from the era where small gifts were exchanged. The family knows I do the shopping, so one by one, they go up to Auntie and show her what she gave them. She is so proud to have a gift for everyone under the tree!


  3. October 12, 2012 at 4:53 am | Posted by Eleanor Ballenger

    I am the senior. 79 years old and had Mrsa last Jan,Feb and March. Gone for 67 days to hospital,rehab hospital and nuring home and therapy to learn to eat , talk and walk again. My husband is 80 and we have been married for 58 years. I appreciate reading things you have in your emails. It helps me. We have 1 son who is wonderful to us. He checks on us before going to work. We want to stay on our home as long as we can. Some days it is hard.THANKS!!! again!!!! Eleanor Ballenger


  4. October 12, 2012 at 12:08 am | Posted by Judy

    I can hardly wait to share this with my family members in Houston who care day to day for my mother who has dementia. Thanks!


  5. October 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Posted by Helen Garrison

    Reverend's speech has always been his peak skill and that is coming along well. Walking is a struggle, but he works hard at it at least twice a day. He has had amazing health care in Durham, NC Thanks for any tips you may have about home health care and navigating narrow hallways in a wheel chair. Thanks, Helen


  6. October 11, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Posted by Helen Garrison

    My husband (73) is recovering from a killer stroke (which did not kill him) . It happened Feb. 9. We hope he will be home for Christmas, but we don't know yet. Thanks for your tips.


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