Happy grandparents opening gift from grandchild

Gifts for Elderly Friends & Loved Ones: 70+ Great Ideas

By Publisher
Last updated

Coming up with good gifts for elderly people can sometimes be a huge challenge. After all, many seniors have particular tastes or more stuff than they know what to do with. How do you find a gift they'll appreciate? It can be even harder if they insist that they don't need anything (as so many older people do when they don't wish to be a burden).

But there are plenty of ways you can make them feel special. For many seniors, the key elements of a gift are practicality and functionality. (And when it comes to gifts for parents and grandparents, sentimentality still plays a role.) If you can come up with something that will make their lives easier, healthier, or more fun, you can bring a smile to their faces.

This gift guide includes plenty of ideas for older men and women, elderly parents and grandparents, and even those hard-to-buy-for people who already have everything. It also features dozens of ideas for older adults who are dealing with a variety of health challenges or conditions. Read on to discover how you can add a magic touch to a senior's day!

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Fun & Practical Gifts for Elderly People

Are you stumped when it comes to gift ideas for the senior citizens in your life? Whether you're searching for a fun present for an older neighbor or a practical gift for an aging relative, you'll get some inspiration from this list. Check out these gift ideas for elderly people:

  1. Brain games: Puzzles and games that engage the brain offer numerous health benefits for elderly men and women. Crossword puzzles, word searches, and sudoku books make great gifts for seniors who enjoy a mental challenge. You could even include a personalized pencil for an extra special touch.
  2. Pill organizer with reminder alarm: Keeping track of medications and when to take them gets increasingly difficult as people age, but pill organizers can help. You can sort out a day's, week's, or month's worth of medications and set automatic alarms to alert your loved one when it's time to take their pills. Be sure to look for a model that has easy-to-open compartments.
  3. Non-slip socks: How about a gift that combines fashion and function? Socks with rubber grips on the bottom can keep an older person's feet toasty warm while also preventing falls. You have your choice of a huge range of colors and styles, including some aimed at men.
  4. Boot jack: Anyone who trudges through muddy fields or putters in the garden (or anyone who struggles with bending over) may appreciate a boot jack that makes it easy to take off boots and other footwear when coming into the house.
  5. Key finder: This is one of the most useful gifts for the elderly people in your life who constantly misplace their house keys. Ranges vary, but some models work up to 300 feet away. Seniors who have smartphones may appreciate a finder that uses Bluetooth technology; those who are more old school may prefer the radio-frequency-based devices.
  6. Homemade gift basket: When it comes to gift baskets, senior citizens often appreciate special treats or useful items that can make their lives more stimulating. Depending on your loved one's interests, good things to include might be books, games, puzzles, snacks, or specialty teas.
  7. Massage pillow: Nothing soothes an aching back or neck like a warm massage. A heated massage pillow that attaches to an armchair can bring welcome relief to an elderly family member or friend who experiences the normal aches and pains that come with getting older.
  8. Sleep sound machine: Sleep issues are a common complaint among elderly people, but a sleep sound machine may be a good solution. These devices generate calming white noise or nature sounds to help people relax and fall asleep faster. Some models even adjust the sound level based on the surrounding noise.
  9. Portable induction cooktop: Do you worry about the safety of your loved one in the kitchen? Induction cooktops can be good gifts for elderly women and men because they only heat the pot, not the stovetop, which means there is less chance of setting anything on fire. Note that only certain kinds of pots will work on these cooktops, so be sure to check into that before you buy.
  10. Light therapy lamp: The dark days of winter can be enough to drag anyone down, but a lamp that mimics natural outdoor light can help brighten your loved one's day. Light therapy lamps can also be ideal for mobility-challenged seniors who find it hard to get outdoors.
  11. Earthly's Unpaper Towels: Reusable Unpaper Towels are washable and can be used in place of paper towels for napkins, cleaning up spills, and wiping grandchildren's sticky hands and faces. The unbleached fabric is absorbent, durable and environmentally friendly. The cute, bright lemon design will look great on your kitchen counter.

Gifts for Parents

Gift ideas for parents can be hard to come by, particularly when those parents claim that they don't want or need anything (yet you still want to bring them a bit of cheer). Here are a few suggestions for gifts for parents like that:

  1. Eyeglass holder: You can get practical eyeglass holders that are lined with plush to keep spectacles safe, or you can go for fun designs shaped like cats or owls. They're inexpensive enough that you could even buy a few different ones and place them in strategic locations around the house.
  2. Big button universal remote: A channel changer with large, easy-to-find buttons that works with all major televisions and cable boxes could be one of the most useful gifts for Mom and Dad this year. You may want to go the extra mile and pre-program it to their system so that they can start using it right out of the box.
  3. Scratch map: Are your parents the active globetrotting type? A wall map that allows them to scratch off the places they've visited can be a unique way to document their adventures as well as a nice addition to the wall of a den or rec room.
  4. Throw blanket: A soft, cuddly throw blanket for the bed or couch can be just what your parents need to stay comfortable while they relax, read, or watch TV. Many throw blankets are lightweight and easy to clean, and there are designs to suit every taste.
  5. Weather monitor: Many elderly parents appreciate knowing what the weather is like before going outside, so a device that displays the current conditions, as well as the forecast, can make a great gift. Wireless systems require the installation of an outdoor sensor, so you may want to take care of that yourself. Look for a monitor with a large display that's easy to read.
  6. Netflix gift card: If your parents have Internet access and a flat-screen TV, you can introduce them to the wonders of the entertainment streaming experience by paying for part or all of a Netflix subscription so that they can watch their favorite movies and TV shows on demand.
  7. Family name art: Unique artwork that incorporates a surname or a family tree can make an excellent gift. Options are available in wood, metal, and canvas, and you can choose from a range of styles to adorn the walls of your parents' living room, family room, kitchen, or den.
  8. Golf range finder: Looking for gifts for an elderly man or woman who still likes to hit the links? A range finder can be an excellent addition to an older person's golf bag. These handy devices measure the distance to the pin to help the golfer plan the next shot and select the appropriate club.
  9. E-reader: If your mom or dad likes to relax with a good book, an e-reader might be just the thing to bring a smile to their face. E-readers are light and easy to use; you can even preload the devices so that your parents can have dozens of titles right at their fingertips.
  10. Wi-Fi digital photo frame: When you set up one of these Wi-Fi digital photo frames in your parents' house, you can upload pictures from your phone directly to the frame without them having to do a thing. (Such frames make especially good gifts for elderly people in nursing homes.) Some models even include motion sensors that turn the frame on to display the most recent photos when someone enters the room.
  11. Single-serve coffee maker: Forget having to dig around for coffee grounds and filters—these single-serve coffee makers make brewing a cup of joe easy and simple. Plus, Dad or Mom don't have to brew a whole pot if they're only going to drink a cup or two.
  12. Amazon Echo: Designed as a Wi-Fi-connected, voice-operated device that can perform a huge range of tasks, the Amazon Echo can play music, give the weather forecast, offer alarms and reminders, and even control the lights in a home. That makes it a great gift for older parents, particularly those with mobility challenges. You may want to include a cheat sheet of verbal commands they can use to get the Echo to perform the kinds of tasks they want it to do.

Gift Ideas for Grandparents

Does trying to think of gift ideas for the grandparents in your life have you scratching your head? We've got you covered. Here are some suggestions for gifts that Grandma or Grandpa may appreciate:

  1. Recordable book from grandkids: This is a personalized gift for grandparents that they will likely cherish forever. Very young children (most books are meant for those under five) can record a story in their own voices and have it play back when Grandma or Grandpa opens the book.
  2. Adult coloring books: Who says coloring is just for kids? Adult coloring books offer senior citizens a fun way to relax and relieve boredom and stress. Coloring is also an excellent activity for grandparents and grandchildren to do together as a form of family bonding.
  3. Grandparent Talk game: This game is a great way to bridge the conversational divide between the younger and older generations. There are 100 cards with questions for grandkids to ask their grandparents, such as "What was considered a snack when you were growing up?" and "Did you have a party line?" The answers give curious children a sense of what life was like many years ago.
  4. Automatic card shuffler: Grandparents who love playing card games like bridge or rummy (but whose motor skills are a bit weak) may find it easier to enjoy the experience if they don't have to deal with shuffling the cards themselves. An automatic card shuffler can be a fun and inexpensive gift.
  5. Photo locket: When it comes to gift ideas for Grandma, a locket with photos of her family is a beautiful and sentimental option. You can find lockets that take up to four photos; many also allow you to engrave special messages for your loved one.
  6. Memory and keepsake journal: When starting a memory journal, ideas can be hard to come by. That's why journals that feature guided prompts to help grandparents record the details of their lives (to share with future generations) make such excellent gifts. Most journals also include pages for documenting the family tree as well as flaps for storing photos and mementos.
  7. Birthstone ring: Rings made of the birthstones of children or grandchildren make popular gifts for elderly moms or grandmas who enjoy a bit of bling. Some rings can hold up to six different stones, and some also include space to engrave names.
  8. Daily Instagram photo calendar: This is a DIY gift for grandparents that offers them something new to look at every single day. A daily desk calendar personalized with photos from your Instagram collection is easy to make and fun to give—your grandparents can enjoy a full year of family memories.
  9. Building blocks: How about giving your grandparents an easy and creative building project? Believe it or not, Lego kits and other block sets make great gifts for seniors who live in communal environments like retirement homes. Lego offers numerous sets that may appeal to older adults, while sets like Mega Bloks have larger pieces that are better for those with motor skills challenges. (You may want to take the Mega Bloks out of the original child-centered packaging and place them in a generic bag or container.)

Gifts for People Who Have Everything

When it comes to people who have everything, the best gifts often focus on experiences and services or unique do-it-yourself items that they can't get anywhere else. Here are a few ideas that may help inspire you:

  1. An old photo that you've restored: Many elderly people have decades-old photos that could use a bit of sprucing up. An old photo that's been restored is a great gift for grandparents who have everything. You can check out tips on how to restore it yourself using Photoshop, or you can have places like Costco do it.
  2. Memory quilt: If you're a whiz with a needle and thread, you could create a customized memory quilt that incorporates materials that have special meaning for your loved one, such as favorite shirts, a wedding dress, or a military uniform. You could even use transfer fabric sheets to add photos to the quilt.
  3. Home-cooked meals frozen in portions: Who wouldn't love a good home-cooked meal that doesn't require making it yourself? Cooking and freezing your elderly friend's favorite foods in meal-sized portions that are easy to reheat can be a thoughtful way to brighten up their days.
  4. Coffee of the month club: If any of the senior citizens on your list are coffee connoisseurs, why not surprise them with a subscription to a coffee club that delivers exotic new roasts from different countries to their door each month?
  5. Gift cards for experiences: One way to bring a little cheer to your loved ones is to treat them to an outing you know they'd love but normally wouldn't do. Spas, cinemas, and restaurants are just a few of the places that offer gift cards your elderly loved ones might enjoy.
  6. Housecleaning or yard-care service: Many elderly people who still live in their own homes appreciate having someone else take care of scrubbing floors, cleaning bathrooms, mowing lawns, and raking leaves. You could arrange these services for them as a one-time deal or on an ongoing basis.
  7. Grocery delivery service: Shopping for groceries is another one of those household chores that get harder as we get older. Services like Instacart can save your loved ones time and effort by bringing fresh food from local stores right to their doorstep.
  8. Charitable donation in their name: For people who really don't need any more stuff, a donation in their name to a charity you know they support can be the most meaningful gift they receive. (For example, many seniors would feel honored to support the American Red Cross.) You could also donate your time to the charity instead of your money and tell the gift recipient that your labors were done in their honor.
  9. Cooking lesson: Learning a new skill is a good way to keep the brain sharp. If any of your senior-citizen friends have a culinary bent, why not pay for a cooking lesson that teaches them how to prepare different kinds of foods they may not have tried before?
  10. Theater, concert, or sports event tickets: Give your loved ones an evening out so that they can indulge their interests and enjoy their favorite performers. A pair of tickets to a music concert, theatrical performance, or live sporting event would surely be appreciated.
  11. Ancestry.com membership: Many elderly people are very interested in documenting their family histories. A membership to an online service like Ancestry.com can guide your gift recipient through their genealogy research and help them fill out the branches in their family tree.

Gifts for People With Alzheimer's or Dementia

Some of the best gifts for Alzheimer's patients and people with dementia are those that help ease their anxiety, soothe their agitation, or stimulate their minds. Check out the following suggestions:

  1. RAZ Memory Cell Phone: Keeping in touch with friends and loved ones is more important than ever, especially for people with memory impairments. The RAZ Memory Cell Phone offers a simplified interface to take the confusion out of making and receiving calls. The main (and only) screen displays 6-24 photos or avatars for easy, one-click dialing. Additionally, there's an emergency button that can be customized to call 911 or RAZ emergency services, and there is location tracking built into the phone.
  2. Picture desktop phone: Help your elderly friend easily connect with the people in his or her life. This phone is a good option for those who prefer a larger, corded phone. Not only can the enlarged numerical buttons be programmed, but each one has space for a photo of the contact, so your loved one only has to push a single button to dial the appropriate person's number.
  3. Jigsaw puzzle: Why not give your loved one a gift that engages the brain and promotes relaxation? The nostalgic imagery and large pieces of these jigsaw puzzles are specifically designed to appeal to seniors dealing with dexterity challenges and memory issues.
  4. Wheelchair blanket: One of the most practical gifts for dementia patients who use a wheelchair is a soft blanket that wraps around their legs but doesn't get caught in the wheels of the chair. These blankets feature Velcro loops to keep them in place; some also include hand warmer pockets.
  5. Photo book: Customized photo books that include detailed captions identifying people and places make fantastic gifts for people with dementia. Companies such as Shutterfly and Walmart make it easy to upload photos and quickly create a book that your gift recipient will love.
  6. Fidget hand muff or blanket: Items with a variety of textures can be excellent gifts for someone with Alzheimer's. Having something to fiddle with can soothe restless hands and reduce anxiety. A wide range of designs are available.
  7. Day clock: Having a clock that displays the date, day of the week, and time of day along with the hour can be a great way for seniors dealing with dementia or memory issues to orient themselves. Most so-called "Alzheimer's clock" models have extra large displays for easy viewing, and some also allow you to adjust the dimness level.
  8. Robotic cat or dog: Allow your loved one to experience the companionship of a pet without the responsibility of caring for a living creature! Specifically designed to comfort older adults, these robotic pets sport realistic fur along with sensors that allow them to respond to human touch.

Gifts for Visually Impaired People

Does an older adult on your list struggle with low vision? Here are a few products for the blind and visually impaired that make excellent holiday gifts:

  1. Be My Eyes: This is a specially designed smartphone app for a blind person that pairs him or her with a sighted volunteer through a video call. By seeing and describing what the blind person is pointing the camera at, the volunteer can offer assistance with anything from adjusting the thermostat to checking food expiration dates. It's available for both iOS and Android.
  2. Large print measuring cups: Does your loved one live for baking or cooking? These measuring cups feature extra large contrasting type on both the handle and cup bottom to make the task of measuring ingredients a snap.
  3. Magnifying glass necklace: Necklaces that incorporate a magnifying glass make fantastic gifts for older women who need a little extra help reading things like store labels. A huge range of styles are available, so you could even buy different necklaces to match your gift recipient's different outfits.
  4. Probing cane: One of the most useful gifts for a blind person, a cane allows your loved one to maneuver confidently by detecting stairs, curbs, and other obstacles. Keep in mind that straight canes give more sensory feedback, while folding canes are easier to store.
  5. Talking watch: People with low vision have a hard time seeing the numbers on a standard wristwatch. That's why talking watches for the blind are so cool. With the press of a button, a voice announces the current time. Some models even set themselves and automatically adjust to Daylight Savings Time.
  6. Low vision keyboard: Make your loved one's computer a whole lot easier to use! Keyboards with high-contrast oversized keys make the letters appear larger and bolder. Both wired and wireless versions are available.
  7. Audible subscription: This is one of those gifts for blind people that keep on giving. Each month, your loved one can choose one free audiobook from among thousands of titles and listen to it via his or her computer or mobile device.
  8. Tip n Split Magnifier: With a built-in LED light, magnifying lens, and simple calculator, this handy device enables your gift recipient to easily read restaurant menus and bills, calculate everyone's share, and figure out a tip.
  9. Big button phone with Braille keys: For a blind person, phone calls can be extremely challenging to make. Simplify the process by giving your loved one a specially designed phone with oversized keys featuring Braille type.

Gifts for People With Hearing Impairments

Are you trying to come up with something special for an elderly friend or family member who is partially or completely deaf? Gifts that may bring a smile to their face include:

  1. Hearing aid charms: Give your loved one a bit of bling to jazz up her hearing aid! You can choose from designs that incorporate hearts, jewels, flowers, religious symbols, and more.
  2. Sign language letter tiles: Does the deaf person on your list enjoy playing Scrabble? Does he or she commonly use American Sign Language? Gifts like these tiles that feature the ASL alphabet put a unique twist on an old game and can be a real hit.
  3. Vibrating alarm clock: Help make sure your loved one doesn't oversleep. Clocks that rely on vibrations rather than sounds for the alarm can be very useful for hearing impaired people. Some models fit under a pillow, while others attach to a wrist.
  4. Ear Gear: Hearing aids are expensive, so why not give a gift that helps protect them? These spandex nylon sleeves keep hearing aids safe from moisture and dirt and are available in eight different colors.
  5. Video doorbell: With a video doorbell, your loved one won't have to stress about not hearing a ring. The doorbell sends an alert to a smartphone when someone is at the door and allows the homeowner to see and speak with the person standing there.
  6. Captioned telephone: Your hard-of-hearing friend won't miss a word of what you're saying with a captioned telephone that instantly displays a written record of the conversation.
  7. TV listening device: No one wants to miss out on the action. Help your hard-of-hearing friends enjoy their favorite television programs in comfort with an individual device that allows them to hear the TV and control the volume without bothering the people around them. You can get devices that connect to either analog or digital TVs.
  8. Sound-enhancing earbuds: If you really want to go all out, try splurging on these. Among the best earbuds for hearing impaired people, these wireless Bose headphones allow the user to choose which voices and sounds to focus on and which ones to filter out.

Gifts for People With Arthritis

For people who live with arthritis, gifts that ease pain and promote comfort are usually high on the wish list. Check out these suggestions for gifts for arthritis sufferers:

  1. Extra long shoe horn: Would the senior on your list like to be able to slip into his or her shoes without having to bend over? These extended shoe horns work with dress shoes, sneakers, or boots.
  2. Knee wrap: Gel packs that can be shaped around an arthritic knee can provide welcome pain relief. The packs can be frozen or microwaved to provide either cold or hot therapy.
  3. Magnetic ring: Magnetic rings for arthritis sufferers can be both stylish and practical. Some people find that wearing such rings helps alleviate the pain in their finger joints.
  4. Automatic jar opener: Presents that make everyday tasks easier often make the best gifts. For someone with osteoarthritis, opening jars can be agony. A device that can do the task for him or her will be much appreciated.
  5. Grocery list organizer: This handy voice-operated device organizes and prints grocery lists, making it one of the most practical gifts for senior citizens who find writing difficult due to arthritis or other conditions. They just push a button to record the item they want to remember to buy; when they're ready to go to the store, they push the print button and the device spits out a list of items pre-sorted by category for easier shopping.
  6. Paraffin wax bath: Let your senior friend soothe his or her sore joints with a heated paraffin wax bath. Smaller units are ideal for hands, while larger ones can also accommodate feet.
  7. Heated mattress pad: The importance of a good night's rest cannot be overstated. A heated mattress pad can help your gift recipient truly relax and let him or her wake up each morning feeling nicely refreshed.
  8. Power lift chair: Give your loved one the ability to get into and out of an armchair with ease. Some lift chairs for arthritis sufferers even include massage and heat functionality.

Spread Some Cheer

Selecting the perfect gifts for elderly friends and family members doesn't have to be difficult. Use the list of ideas above for inspiration—and make a senior feel special!