From Sentimental to Practical: The Best Gift Ideas for Seniors for a Happy and Memorable Holiday Season

Ah, the holidays. This is a time for spreading joy, love, and gifts. It’s such a nice feeling to have the house decorated, the presents wrapped, and the holiday cards sent, but it can also be a time of stress as we try to live up to expectations of a perfect holiday for family and friends. As the big day is drawing near, have you thought of anything to get the special older adult in your life? It can be difficult to think of gift ideas for seniors, especially if you feel like they already have everything they need, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of thoughtful gifts to give your loved one this holiday season. Here are some gift ideas that they’ll not only love but remember for a long time to come!

Go-To Gift Ideas for Seniors

Photo Albums

A photo album is a heart-warming option to give an older adult for the holidays. It’s a wonderful way for them to take pride in their past, look back on bygone days fondly, and preserve memories for future generations. Scrapbooks work well too, with their endless options for preserving mementos and tokens of previous adventures and occasions.
Bonus Points: Help the older adult organize a collection of old photos or things that can be made into a scrapbook. The older adult may have stored these items randomly in drawers or boxes, but together you can rearrange them into something spectacular! This is a particularly tactic for older parents or other family members, as it provides an opportunity for your loved one to tell stories and for you to learn more about your family’s past and heritage.

Postal Supplies

Postal supplies are always a nice surprise for an older adult. Many older adults still opt for snail mail over email to send thank you notes, letters, and cards. Having pretty stationery, cards, stamps, and similar items on hand is a fun, convenient time-saver that helps remind older adults to keep in touch with the people they love most.
Bonus Points: Many older adults prefer handwritten communication but have trouble doing it themselves. Help the older adult write out holiday cards and thank-you notes you bought and offer to mail them. This extra step will go a long way in showing your loved one that you care.


What if the older adult in your life wants to go the opposite route from the handwritten, brick-and-mortar way of doing things?[1. “How Do Women Over 60 Use the Internet? The Answers Might Surprise You,” November 247, 2013,] If they enjoy electronics, scope out the holiday sales and get them a great deal on a PC, smartphone, tablet, or laptop. For older adults interested in digital communications, a smartphone or laptop is a great way for them to connect with family, friends, and the world beyond.
Bonus Points: Give your loved one lessons on their new device if they’re having trouble. These devices are especially good for communicating and preventing isolation. If they don’t already know how, show your loved one how to use apps like FaceTime, Skype, Facebook, e-mail, and more.

Ergonomic Kitchen Supplies

Many older adults have trouble gripping, turning, and holding onto things with their hands due to conditions like generalized weakness and arthritis. Help them out by purchasing ergonomic kitchen supplies like can openers with special grips, or even automatic ones.
Bonus Points: Making meals for older adults is always a lovely way to show you care, and it’s especially appreciated around the holidays. If they need assistance organizing kitchen supplies or food items, this is another easy and helpful gift to give them!

Ways to Keep Warm

Many times, older adults have trouble keeping warm because of illnesses that affect their circulation.[2. “Aging changes in the heart and blood vessels,” September 15, 2014,] Solve this chilly problem by getting them comforters, lap blankets, sweaters, and heated shoulder or back pads.
Bonus Points: If you’re the crafting type, you can’t beat a gift of a handmade scarf, blanket, or another cozy item that comes straight from the heart! Remember to opt for soft materials, rather than itchy or coarse textiles that can irritate aging skin.

Home Care

Sometimes, no matter how much you try to do for your aging loved one, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all you’d like. If that’s happening to you right now, don’t worry! You can still give an older adult the gift of home care. Imagine their surprise and delight when a professional comes to their house to provide companionship, cook, clean, and transport them wherever they need to go! Home care providers can be used for short-term or long-term to fill in any gaps in care.

Got Your Own Gift Ideas for Seniors?

These are some of our tried-and-true gifts for older adults, but don’t feel confined to the suggestions above – there are a hundred ways to show older adults you care. Do you have your own gift ideas for seniors? Share them in the comments below, and help spread the good cheer. From everyone at the Institute on Aging, we wish you a terrific holiday season!
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.

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Three and a half years ago, Maggie Fang started her journey as an Assessment Specialist in the Support at Home Program at IOA. Her excellent people skills enabled her to manage a caseload of older adults and individuals with disabilities, helping them receive homecare to age in place. Maggie was selected to pioneer the Temporary Respite Caregiver Support program, and we are delighted to have such a skilled and dedicated individual leading our newest program at IOA. Thank you, Maggie, for your exceptional work! 

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