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Thursday, November 17, 2016

As I prepare to purchase gifts for the older members of my family, I am again in a quandary as to what to give them.They never mention things they might want, and I have observed gifts from previous years still sitting around in the original gift box. Not only do I want my presents to be useful, I want them to indicate the thought I put into selecting them as a symbol of my love and respect. I am guessing I am not alone in this search for the illusive, thoughtful gift.

Gift of Company for older adults

In order to identify the best gifts for the older adult, the recipient must be considered according to his or her functional health age as well as chronological age; remember that some 80-year-olds are as robust as 65-year-olds, while others are not.


The work environment provides a social outlet for individuals during their years of employment. Not only is socialization itself beneficial to an individual, the sense of purpose and well-being it creates contributes to an individual’s sense of self. Its loss can create isolation and a search for what to do with one’s time. Perhaps the best gift is not a “thing” to buy but rather the gift of an experience to remember.

If you have a retiree in this predicament consider gifting one of the following, depending on age and interest:

  • Registration at a local gym, art studio, pottery club, photography club, etc.
  • Paying for registration and travel to a nostalgic music festival, similar to Oldchella
  • Paying enrollment in a community college or college class of interest
  • Find and sign up for the Red Hat Society in his/her area and accompany the recipient to the first meeting.

Gift of Music for older adultMost older adults wish for more quality time spent with those they love so in addition to the gift, go along with them. Consider these gifts with you in attendance as the “plus one:”

  • Movie tickets
  • Gift certificates to a favorite restaurant (make sure it is the recipient’s favorite, not yours!)
  • Interactive games and an intergenerational family game night
  • Interactive talk game with a commitment of time from the grandchildren
  • A day’s worth of “honey-do” tasks with you as the handyman for the day (including IT assistance).


If your loved one’s income has been greatly reduced due to retirement, consider a gift that reduces expenses:

  • Gift certificates to the hair salon
  • Massage
  • Mani-pedi
  • Cable vision or satellite television, cell phone plan, Netflix, cleaning services or other payments for months or a full year


And for those children and grandchildren who must buy that “thing”, here’s a list of items that some may desire or actually need:

  • Moomba or Roomba for easy cleaning
  • Handy bar for getting in and out of tub or shower
  • LED floor lamp with magnifier
  • TV ears personal listening device
  • Keurig with lots of K cups
  • Digital picture frame already loaded with photos

Hopefully, this non-exhaustive list will get your brain cells working to find the perfect gift for the older adult in your family. Remember to consider what your family member values and choose your gift accordingly.

Next week’s blog will explore more gifts for older adults.

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