Coming up with original gift ideas for the elderly can be tricky.
Ask your relative or friend what they’d like for their birthday or Christmas and they’ll possibly say “nothing”.
They have everything they need and nothing on their wish list. They’ve reached ‘peak stuff’ levels. They don’t want to be a burden. They insist you save your money.
But you still want to make them feel special. And who doesn’t secretly love receiving a carefully chosen present?
Short of buying a badge saying, “I’ve got everything I need”, finding a suitable gift, especially for someone whose interests may be limited, needn’t be an impossible task.
Whether it’s functional, funny, sentimental or nostalgic, the perfect present could make life easier, healthier or more fun. A surprise that will bring a smile to your loved ones’ face.
Here we explore some great gift ideas for the elderly that will solve your dilemma.
Bring Books and Share Stories
For fiction and fact lovers, there’ll always be a new book or three for them to devour. If your loved one can while away the hours engrossed in a gripping story or learning about a new topic, books are a simple and welcome gift.
If they struggle with their eyesight but still prefer a physical book, consider a large print edition. Or if they’re happy to embrace technology, an audiobook subscription will give them access to thousands of titles via a smartphone or tablet. Services such as Audible and Audiobooks cost as little as £7.99 a month and will make your gift last all year round.
Another option is to give them an eReader such as a Kindle which they can use in conjunction with an audiobook subscription. The perfect package for book enthusiasts.
Think Creatively About Photos
Looking through old family photographs is a lovely pastime, sparking memories and triggering stories. Whether these are kept in well-thumbed albums or numerous envelopes, there are several ways to give them a new lease of life.
Specialist services can restore precious photos, fixing wear and tear, and even turning black and white images into colour ones. You can then put these in a frame or album to create a highly personal gift.
Converting physical photos into digital versions is simple either with your own scanner and printer, or via a professional service who can also work with negatives, cinefilm and videos.
These can then be used to make a unique photobook or added to a digital frame which scrolls through hundreds of different images. You could even create a calendar with a different family photo to enjoy each month.
And if you’d like some shiny new photos, you could arrange a professional family photoshoot and invite your elderly relative along for a day out with a difference.
From crosswords to colouring and gardening to genealogy, there’s bound to be a gift idea for the elderly connected to a favourite hobby.
While puzzle books and jigsaws offer endless possibilities, you can think beyond a new set of Sudoku challenges or 1000-piece brain bender. Consider a personalised pen or a fold-away jigsaw mat.
If they’re interested in family history, a subscription to an online service such as Ancestry will give them access to records and information to explore their family tree.
If they’re green-fingered, there are specially adapted tools to make everyday tasks easier for those with limited mobility, or you could buy them a subscription to receive fresh flowers once a month.
Anything goes when it comes to hobbies, so think about their interests and passions, then tap into them imaginatively.
Practical gifts may be considered dull but there are many that can promote self-esteem and a real sense of achievement. As maintaining independence and dignity is important in old age, think about what gadgets and aids might be welcomed by your loved one.
Ask yourself what they struggle with day-to-day, then research what options are out there to help solve the problem. And keep in mind that you may be able to apply for a VAT exemption when buying equipment for the elderly from a specialist.
It could be something as simple as a pill organiser to make managing medication easier or as expensive as a stairlift to make accessing a bedroom or bathroom safer.
How about a video doorbell for those who still live at home so they can see who’s at the front door and only answer it when they know who’s calling round?
Or a universal TV remote with large buttons to make watching their favourite programmes that little bit simpler? Telephones are also available with big keys, with some featuring spaces for photos alongside pre-programmed numbers.
An online grocery delivery can be a welcome treat, eliminating the need to go out and about in bad weather or when they’ll feeling under the weather.
If you’re a dab hand at DIY, you could give a room in their house a fresh lick of paint in a sunny colour to keep spirits lifted. Or replace worn-out carpet to improve safety and comfort.
Embrace Health and Comfort
Beyond the basics of slippers and non-slip socks, there are plenty of original gift ideas for the elderly that promote health and comfort.
Again, think about any issues they chat to you about. If their feet give them trouble, a foot spa can soothe and relax. Wax baths for arthritis sufferers are also perfect for both painful feet and hands. And if poor circulation bothers them, massage pillows, wheat bags and thermal bed socks will all be helpful.
If your elderly friend or relative struggles with low mood, especially in the darker months, a light therapy lamp can stimulate hormone production, re-energising and easing symptoms.
If you really want to splash out, a riser chair can make a significant difference to everyday comfort and mobility. Your loved one could end up wondering how they ever managed without it.
And who could resist a new blanket to snuggle under on their favourite sofa or chair? You could even have a memory quilt made for them, sewn using scraps of fabric from memorable items of clothing and soft furnishings.
If mobility is still good enough, gifts related to getting out and about offer a wealth of choice to break away from the everyday routine.
Take your pick from a wide range of experience vouchers. They might not be up to a skydive or bungee jump these days but how about a day at the races, trip on a steam train, a star gazing session or an indulgent afternoon tea in a five-star hotel?
National Trust membership will give them plenty of inspiration for interesting days out both near and far away. And if they use a mobility scooter while exploring stately homes and gardens, how about a pair of pretend number plates spelling out a fun message?
For those who love the stage and screen, tickets to the cinema or theatre will give them an exciting trip to look forward to, especially if it becomes a treat for the whole family. Or you could simply take them out to a favourite cafe, sharing time, stories and a large slice of cake.
So the next time you hear the words “I don’t need want anything thanks”, dig out this list and get shopping. There are plenty of gift ideas for the elderly to choose from.
And if your loved one really does already have everything and you’re still stumped, you can treat them to a home care package from Holm.. They’ll enjoy regular company from a lovely carer to cover those times when you can’t be there yourself.