It’s getting to be that time of the year: the season when many of us start looking for a thoughtful gift to give to an older loved one.
I’ll be honest: I’m not much of a shopper and it’s not my style to give physical gifts just for the sake of doing so.
But I do think it can be wonderful to give something that brightens a person’s day.
And it’s even better when a gift is practical, useful, or otherwise helps an older person make the best out of life.
One of my favorite resources, when it comes to identifying useful items to help with age-related challenges or caregiving, are the lists put together by DailyCaring.com.
In this article, I’ll share my list of eight gifts that can help older adults cope with common late-life challenges.
Four are for older adults in general, and then four are especially useful for those living with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.
Four great gift ideas for older adults:
1) Adaptive clothing
- You can find stylish adaptive clothes at Silvert’s and Buck & Buck. For more on how adaptive clothing helps with practical issues, see here.
- You can also get adaptive footwear, such as shoes and slippers, from Silvert’s or Buck & Buck. These can be helpful for people with gout, diabetes, edema, and other special foot care needs. For more on adaptive shoes, see here.
2) A simplified smartphone or tablet
Many older adults can manage the same type of smartphone or tablet as their adult children.
But for those who would prefer something a bit simpler (or who are just moving into smartphones and tablets), a specially designed device can be easy and more pleasant to use. They also often include extra features that can be useful to aging adults.
For instance, the Lively Jitterbug smartphone has a large screen, big buttons, loud speakers, plus additional health and safety features such as an app link for families, 5Star Urgent Response, Urgent Care doctors and nurses, live Personal Operators, and a connection to Lyft.
For a tablet designed for older adults, consider Grandpad. This tablet can be used for video calls, safe internet browsing, listening to music, and more. The apps are designed to be accessible, the navigation is easy, and the tablet plan comes with live support 24/7 to answer question. Grandpads also block spam and robocalls.
For more on tech tools that are good for aging adults, see DailyCaring’s article here.
3) A modern rollator walker
A good mobility device can enable an older person to walk further and more often.
I especially like rollators with seats, which provide balance support and also a convenient spot to sit down when a rest is needed.
This Drive Medical 4-Wheel Rollator Walker With Seat & Removable Back Support rollator walker is very reasonably priced, easy to maneuver, lightweight, and has a handy seat and backrest for rest breaks.
Or, if you’re willing to spend more, consider something like the Carbon Ultralight Rolling Walker, which is more stylish and is super easy to fold and put into a car, due to its exceptionally lightweight design. (You can read many Carbon Ultralight Rolling Walker reviews on Amazon here, although it might be best to buy from the maker directly, to make sure you can access warranty service if you need it.)
4) Motion-activated LED lights
If you’re looking for something smaller or simpler, consider something like motion-activated LED lights.
These AMIR motion-activated stick anywhere LED lights are great for automatically lighting dark corners, closets, or cabinets. They reduce fall risk by illuminating places where you aren’t able to add a lamp.
Four great gift ideas for people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia:
1) A smart picture frame that makes video calls
These ViewClix Smart Frame picture frames display digital photos in a 10.1-inch screen size or 15.6-inch screen size.
Both sizes have video calling with an auto-answer mode. When auto-answer is set up, the older adult doesn’t need to do anything to receive a video call.
This is especially helpful for making video calls to someone with dementia or who isn’t able to physically answer a call.
Plus, the frame can be remotely managed, which makes them hassle-free for the older adult.
2) A weighted blanket to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation
Did you know that weighted blankets can improve sleep and reduce anxiety?
They’re especially helpful for people with dementia (a clinical trial is in progress) and also great for anyone who has trouble sleeping, feels anxious, or would just enjoy feeling more relaxed (you might want one for yourself too). Some of the weighted blankets suggested by Daily Caring include:
- ZZZhen Weighted Blanket – 15 lbs, 48 x 72 inches
- Hypnoser Adult Weighted Blanket – 20 lbs, 60 x 80 inches
- Hug Bud Weighted Blanket – 12 lbs, 60 x 80 inches
- RELAX EDEN Weighted Blanket W/Removable, Washable Duvet Cover – blankets in 15 or 20 lb options
And if you’re crafty, you could make your own DIY weighted blanket – get instructions here.
For more on how weighted blankets can help people with dementia, see DailyCaring’s helpful article here.
3) A Joy for All pet
Many people with dementia adore these artificial pets, which are available as cats or dogs. There is even now a “Walker Squawker” bird available from the same company, invented in part by a 93-year-old woman who wanted an appealing way to be reminded to use her walker (so cool!).
These lifelike and engaging pets are cute and cuddly soft. They’re battery-powered and can purr, meow, bark, move, and respond in realistic ways when petted or hugged.
For more on these, you can read DailyCaring’s comprehensive review here.
4) Adaptive tableware
People with Alzheimer’s often struggle at meal times. Specially designed tableware, such as that made by Eatwell, has been clinically studied. Research suggests these can help reduce confusion and improve nutrition.
DailyCaring has a good article explaining Eatwell’s tableware here.
A bonus gift idea
If you know someone who’s been worried about an aging parent, but isn’t sure how to respectfully step in to provide help: you could gift them my book 🙂
It’s called “When Your Aging Parent Needs Help: A geriatrician step-by-step guide to memory loss, resistance, safety worries, and more,” and you can find it on Amazon, or at most online bookselling platforms of your choice (e.g. Apple Books, Barnes and Noble, etc.)
Need more gift ideas for an older adult or family caregiver in your life?
Again, for even more gift ideas, I highly recommend browsing through DailyCaring’s gift lists, which include:
- 50 Best Gifts for Seniors
- Holiday Gifts for Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- Gifts for Older Women
- Gifts for Older Men
That said, always remember that one of the very best gifts you can give to an older loved one is your presence, your attention, and your patience…those are priceless to others and will always make a difference, whether or not you also purchase a practical gift for the holidays.
Now, do you have any favorite gift ideas you’d like to recommend? Please share below in the comments!
*Note: This article does contain Amazon affiliate links. We are now participating in the Amazon Associates affiliate program, so if you buy through a link on our site, Better Health While Aging will earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!
This article was first published in 2022, and was last updated by Dr. K in November 2023.