What to Buy This Holiday Season for Aging Family Members Who Already Have Everything
The holidays will be here before you know it. If you’re stumped on what gifts to get your aging parents or other elderly relatives, you’re not alone. It can be hard to come up with the perfect gift for someone who either has everything they need or has recently moved to a smaller home.
When it comes to holiday gift giving for the elderly, practical is best. They usually prefer gifts that they can use, eat or have sentimental value.
A Gift Guide for Elderly Relatives
I have worked with the elderly for several holiday seasons. These types of holiday gifts have been their favorites.
Sentimental and Practical Gifts:
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- Hand-written Letter: Don’t ignore the power of a loving letter or card, expressing your appreciation for your loved one. People rarely take the time to share their feeling with each other. Putting it in a letter allows them to read it over and over again.
- The Gift of Time: My mom’s birthday is 12 days after Christmas so I have started doing a mom and me experience gift for one of the occasions. I have taken her on a spa day, we have seen musicals and we have done museum days. Is there something your loved one would enjoy that the two of you can do together?
- Photo Gifts: My dad loves getting pictures of his grandkids. Every Christmas, I make my parents a photo book of pictures of the family throughout the year. My brother and sister-in-law made a coffee cup with pictures of all of the grandkids. These have by far been my dad’s favorite gifts.
- Consumables: Are there special food items that your parents love that are difficult for them to purchase? Do you bake a special treat that they enjoy? Consider gifting them something consumable that they can enjoy. You can also make or purchase extra treats to freeze so that they can enjoy them after the holidays are over. I rarely bake but during the holidays, I make special treats for my aunts and uncles. They look forward to receiving them, especially since I don’t do it often!
- Cozy or Comfortable Gifts: Last Christmas, my mom got me two of my favorite gifts. The first was a coffee cake to use while I am reading in bed. I had never seen one, but it is genius! When you read in bed, you can use the blanket for your lower half, but your upper half isn’t covered. This blanket lets you still use your hands to hold your book but you stay nice and warm. My other favorite gift was an adult coloring book. I had been wanting one but didn’t want to spend money on it. I loved getting one as a gift.
Is there an item in their home that needs to be upgraded? They may not realize the item needs an upgrade. They also may not want to spend the money on it, or their budget doesn’t allow for an upgrade.
- Phone: Are they struggling to see the numbers on their landline? Consider a phone with larger buttons. If they are using an old cell phone that doesn’t hold a charge or has a cracked screen, consider getting them an upgrade. Many cell companies have special deals around the holidays.
- Gadgets: Is your loved one struggling with a manual can opener? Consider an electric one. Do they have a hard time with the many remote controls? Get them a universal remote and provide them with easy-to-follow instructions. Do your parents have a giant crock pot from their days of making meals for a large family? Consider getting them a smaller crockpot that is more suitable for the two of them.
- Linens: I don’t know why, but people hate parting with old sheets and towels. New sets can be a bit pricey so the holidays are the perfect time to gift your parents new sheets or towels.
Subscriptions and Re-stocking Gifts:
If your elderly parents have a tough time shopping for groceries or necessities, consider a food delivery or subscription service. Setting them up for a subscription service – whether for practical or luxury items – will be a nice treat. Here are some of the possibilities.
- Food Subscription Services: Between fruit-of-the-month, CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes, bagel of the month or tea of the month, you should be able to find something that would be a nice treat or necessity.
- Luxury gift deliveries: Does your parent enjoy a certain food or product but feel guilty splurging on it? Consider having it sent to them. Maybe your parent is a snack food junkie. You can have anything from organic nuts to coffee cake sent to them. You can also purchase a magazine or entertainment subscription that they may not splurge on for themselves.
- Entertainment: You can purchase a Netflix subscription or Amazon Fire Stick for your parents, provided you show them how to use it (and leave easy-to-follow directions). You can also get him a Kindle Unlimited subscription so that they can read as many e-books as they’d like each month. This is great for a bookworm who doesn’t have transportation to the library or bookstore!
Stocking Stuffers for Elderly Loved Ones
If your family also does stocking stuffers, here are some great ideas for elderly family members:
- Toiletries: I usually get my mom luxurious soaps and lotions that she would never get for herself.
- Mini Treats: My dad loves chocolate and coffee so I buy mini samples of coffee and pick up special chocolates that he would never buy on his own.
- Socks: I usually pick up some nice cozy socks for my mom and nice dress socks for my dad.
- Lottery Tickets: I’m not a big Lottery person buy my parents have fun scratching lottery tickets. They usually win a few dollars, which makes it even more exciting.
- Gift Cards: My parents would never accept cash from their kids, so I usually get gift cards for their stocking. Some of my favorites as gas cards (they drive about 40 miles round trip to babysit my kids), restaurant gift cards and store cards to their favorite stores.
Holiday Gifts for Family Members with Dementia
If you loved one has dementia, it can be even more difficult to find the right gift. Here are some ideas that they may enjoy:
- Music: Purchase CDs or load an iPod with your loved one’s favorite music. Music has been known to shift moods, manage stress-induced agitation and stimulate positive interactions.
- Favorite Food: While they may not remember what they ate for breakfast yesterday, they will enjoy the pleasure of eating their favorite food in that moment. Did your mother have a favorite chocolate or dessert? Is there a snack or food that always took her back to her childhood? Regardless of her stage of dementia, she can still enjoy eating her favorite treats.
- Fragrance: Did your mom have a signature perfume or have a favorite floral smell? Purchase a lotion or small bottle of perfume for her to enjoy. The fragrance may bring back memories, but even if it doesn’t, she will likely enjoy the fragrance.
- Cozy Clothes: Purchase cozy non-slip slippers or a new throw for your loved to enjoy. They can enjoy the tactile feel of her new cozy items.
- Tactile Gifts: People with dementia can be fidgety. Consider getting a taggy blanket (from the infant department), soft stuffed animal or other items that can engage their sense of touch.
While it can be difficult to find a nice gift for an aging parent, you don’t have to pull your hair out. There are plenty of things they may enjoy, even if they are downsizing their home or are homebound. Do you have home run gifts that you’ve given your mom?
Here are some links to help you get your shopping started: