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A Fun Holiday Gift Guide for Aging Loved Ones
Marissa Salvesen

By: Marissa Salvesen on December 9th, 2015

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A Fun Holiday Gift Guide for Aging Loved Ones

Aging & Caregiving

holiday gift guide for senior citizensWhile choosing a gift that your aging loved one either wants or needs can be challenging, some thought -- and a bit of help from us -- can help you find the perfect present for a special older adult in your life. Whether you’re looking for something fun, functional, or a combination of both, these holiday gift suggestions are  perfect surprises for parents, grandparents, and other older loved ones to find under the tree this holiday season.

Photo Gifts

The internet puts one-of-a-kind personalized photo gifts just a few clicks away. From calendars and coffee mugs to canvas art and candles, there are near-endless ways to create meaningful photo gifts.

One of our favorites for the season? A cozy blanket, quilt or throw -- perfect for warming both both body and soul.

Digital photo and video albums are also original gifts, but a good, old-fashioned paper album is sure to please.

One thing to keep in mind? Most online personalized photo products companies offer fairly significant discounts throughout the holiday season so check in frequently to get the best deals.

Gift Certificates and Coupon Books

Whether your aging loved one is on a fixed income or is simply more inclined to spend on others than on herself, a gift certificate to a favorite store or restaurant is a special treat.

Still don’t think your aging loved one will cash it in? Consider making a personalized gift certificate or coupon book. From a lunch date at the restaurant of his choice to a day of errand-running, these gestures are both practical and personal.

A variation on the gift certificate theme? Membership in a “Food of the Month” club. From cheese and chocolate to fruit, coffee, or wine, these gourmet deliveries aren’t just delicious, but also give older adults something new to look forward to each month.

A Charitable Donation

Some seniors truly do not want anything except the company of friends and family members during the holidays. However, they may also have feel strongly about helping a local charity or other non-profit organization. Whether your aging loved would appreciate a donation to their local church, a children’s charity or hospital, or the humane society,  there’s no better way to honor your loved one by making a donation their his/her name. Many humanitarian organizations also offer Christmas “gift guides” which let you select the type of donation you would like to make. Options such as purchasing livestock for a family to raise, to buying a bicycle or a bed net for a needy individual, can make a world of difference in someone’s life.

Games, Activities and Art Supplies

Activities like board games and coloring not only help keep seniors busy, but also sharpen fine motor skills and brain function. Whether your aging loved one enjoys puzzles, cards, or crafts; such as painting or knitting, consider adding to their collection or restocking their supply. Word games, like Scrabble or Bananagrams, and puzzle books, like Sudoku and crosswords, are good choices that help keep the mind active and engaged.


Although it may not sound very glamorous, a bundle of necessities can often make a great gift for an aging loved one, particularly if she is not able to get out and about to do shopping  for herself. Consider putting together an assortment of her favorite health and beauty aids (shampoo, toothpaste, soap, lotion, etc.) along with other items like paper towels, toilet paper, batteries, laundry detergent,  and other necessities. Package them up creatively in a reusable bag or basket and then enjoy the response as she opens a few of her “favorite things”.

“Smart” Technology

Today’s tablets and iPads are exceptionally senior-friendly thanks to features like touch-screens and large print options. In addition to offering everything from entertainment to help with medication management, smart technologies also offer something that's in woefully short supply for many seniors: opportunities to connect with the outside world.

Fitness tracking bracelets, watches and other wearables are also wonderful gifts for seniors. Whether you get a basic model that tracks steps, or something with more advanced functionality, fitness trackers can motivate seniors to get up and moving. You can even set them to connect with your own fitness tracker to help measure your goals together!

One caveat? Giving a senior the latest technological device is only part of the gift. The other part? Teaching him how to use it. Remember, aging adults may be intimidated by technology, and may also be slower to process information. Offer plenty of encouragement when helping your aging loved one acclimate to the digital world. With some time and patience from you, he’ll be techno-savvy in no time!

Homemade Gifts

Some of the best gifts for an aging loved one cost very little while still conveying how deeply you care. Bake a batch of his favorite cookies from childhood or knit a warm hat and scarf set in her favorite color. A framed piece of artwork from a child, meanwhile, is priceless.

If your aging loved one is a storyteller, why not write down his story and compile it into a homemade book? This isn’t just a gift for your loved one, but one for future generations, as well.

While shopping for older adults can be tricky, taking the time to find the right gift not only offers caregivers the chance to delight aging loved ones, but also to experience for themselves the old adage -- as anyone who's ever given the perfect gift already knows -- that it is indeed truly “better to give than to receive.”

Key Takeaways

  • Gifts for aging adults don’t need to be fancy or expensive; they just need to be creative and come from the heart.
  • Technological gifts can be well-received and a splendid way to connect seniors with the world around them, but will require patience and a positive attitude from loved ones.
  • Outside-the-gift-box thinking can yield particularly meaningful gifts -- many of which are completely free!

About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.