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Holiday Gift Giving Tips for an Older Loved One


An older adult receiving a holiday gift | Photo by Kampus Production.

When we're considering gifts for our older loved ones for the holidays, being creative in our choices can help us select a gift with special meaning and value to them. Many older adults have accumulated years' worth of personal possessions, so we don't want to add to the clutter. With a little imagination, we can instead come up with the perfect gift to fit their needs, whether they could use assistance around the house or new ways to stay active. Here are some ideas to get us started:

1. Filling a colorful gift basket with useful items that our loved ones do not already have can be a creative and fun way to give them practical items that may be helpful. On their own, these gifts may not be especially exciting, but together they can make a meaningful and useful gift. Potential items we may want to consider incorporating include:

  • A large magnifying glass, a book light or a lighted sheet magnifier for avid readers
  • Pill organizers that can be color-coded for morning and evening pills
  • Gift cards to the grocery, pharmacy or a coffee shop, or passes to local events, workshops or classes 
  • An easy-to-use pill cutter
  • Hand and finger exercisers
  • Non-skid socks for wearing around the house
  • Lotions 
  • A jar opener
  • Exercise resistance bands or ankle weights
  • Compression socks in a fun color or pattern

2. To help a loved one remain active, we can sign them up to take a class or lesson for an activity they have always wanted to try. We can even make it an outing for both of us! Local arts organizations offer a host of course options, such as painting, drawing or ceramics. These classes can provide a way for us to have fun discovering new talents with a loved one, while helping them to stay active and engaged in the community, and in activities that they enjoy. 

3. A photo memory book can be a meaningful and sentimental gift for an older loved one, and they provide a way to make both photos and the memories they conjure up easily accessible. Photos are wonderful to share, but there is often limited wall and surface space for framed pictures, and digital photos are often accumulated and forgotten, which makes a memory book a helpful alternative. We can find inspiration in a loved one’s hobbies, interests and favorite things and find photos that reflect them. For example, we can compile photos taken at a favorite vacation spot over the years and add special memories from each trip. Online services also allow us to create customized hardcover books, or we can create a book using scrapbook supplies from our local craft store.

4. If we feel confident in our home improvement and handy skills, we can offer our services to help make a loved one's home their ideal space, and ensure it is safe for aging in place. Changes and checkups we may want to consider making include:

  • Installing appropriate lighting in stairways and hallways
  • Adding grab bars to the tub and shower
  • Checking appliances for frayed wires
  • Checking for working flashlights
  • Making sure smoke detectors are installed and are operating properly
  • Rearranging furniture and lamps to prevent tripping hazards 
  • Making sure lamp switches are within easy reach
  • Installing nightlights to make navigating to the bathroom or kitchen safe at night 
  • Checking carpeting for frays and tears, which should be repaired, or the entire carpet should be removed, depending on the damage 
  • Removing all throw rugs, which pose a risk of causing falls

A version of this article appeared in the Private Health News.

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