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The Best Gifts for Elderly Loved Ones

13 minute readLast updated December 1, 2023
Written by Merritt Whitley, senior living writer and editor

Whether it’s for a holiday, a birthday, or special occasion shopping to find the perfect present for the older adults in your life can be tricky because they have diverse and evolving needs. Simply browsing store aisles or searching the internet for a gift sometimes isn’t enough to spark inspiration. When it comes to buying a gift for a senior in your life, think about their interests and hobbies, where they live, and useful things that can help make their daily lives just a little easier.

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Consider the following gift ideas for your elderly loved one from the people who know best: our staff, caregivers, and readers in senior living.

Activity books or games

Games can be an excellent way to stay entertained while keeping the mind sharp. Check out the best board games for seniors, and consider some of these engaging activity ideas as well:

  • Crossword or sudoku puzzles
  • Adult coloring books
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Video games for Wii or other popular consoles
  • Paint-by-number books

Cribbage boards make a great gift for seniors who enjoy playing games with friends and family. There are a variety of creative board styles that range from simple to elegant. Many boards come complete with everything your senior loved one needs to play including, scoring pegs, a deck of cards and game rules.

Musical gifts for the elderly

Listening to music is a relaxing way for seniors to pass the time and recall favorite memories. Plus, music therapy for seniors with dementia offers proven positive effects. Ask yourself these questions when shopping for music-related gifts: Does your loved one have a favorite musical artist? Will they be entertaining others? What types of technology are easiest for them?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Purchase their favorite recording artist’s music, merchandise, or a DVD featuring live performances.
  • Consider a small traditional music box for a nostalgic choice.
  • Check out these musical-themed gifts like record-shaped coasters, a karaoke mic, and piano-shaped cutting boards.

MP3s or CDs are a great but if you really want to spark some nostalgia, a record player might be the perfect gift for the music loving senior in your life. The technology hasn’t changed so they’re easy to operate and vinyl records have become popular again so finding the music your loved one enjoys is a breeze.

There are several options but his Victrola suitcase record player is one example of a straightforward all-in one package. It comes in a variety of colors and it’s portable, compact size makes it is easy to close and store. It also has built in speakers so your loved one can simply plug it in, choose their favorite record, and play.

Give seniors something useful

It never hurts to give a gift that can either simplify daily tasks, provide knowledge, or add relaxation and enjoyment. Consider your loved one’s needs and abilities but also think about their favorite activities, personal likes, and hobbies.

Some useful gift ideas for your elderly loved one include:

  • Water flosser or electric toothbrush
  • Multipurpose reachtool with rotating rubber grip head for grabbing items
  • Handheld vacuum cleaner
  • Bird-watching binoculars or a species informational guide
  • French press coffee maker, coffee mug, or special coffee blend
  • Calendars with a favorite theme or customized with family photos

A foot spa is a great gift for a senior who enjoys some personal pampering in their down time. Think of it as a hot tub for your feet. You simply fill the small tub with water and the spa heats and maintains a comfortable temperature. Many have rollers that massage the bottoms of your loved one’s feet and jets to create soothing bubbles.

There are several options to choose from, boasting a variety of features, but one example is the Hospan Foot Spa which offers a timer and a collapsible tub for easy storage.

For seniors who love to garden or cook with fresh herbs, an indoor hydroponic garden may be the perfect gift. During the cooler, darker months of winter, this compact, easy to set up garden allows seniors to grow plants inside. Most come with everything your loved one needs including LED lights and several pods to organize their crop. A senior can simply choose their desired seeds and watch their garden grow.

Technology devices for seniors

Whether your loved one enjoys reading, listening to music and podcasts, watching movies, or playing on the computer, there are many devices and electronics to enable entertainment:

  • Colorful mouse pad or sturdy carrying case for a laptop, phone, or tablet
  • Charging station for electronics
  • E-reader such as the NOOK from Barnes & Noble
  • Google Nest Mini, a voice-command device for music, podcasts, and more
  • Wireless headphones
  • Selfie stick for video chatting and photos
  • Big-button universal TV remote

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

Fitness gift items

Many at-home workout items help seniors care for their overall well-being while having fun. Low-impact exercises for seniors can include the following equipment, which also makes for great gifts:

  • Light weights, such as 2- or 4-pound dumbbells
  • Yoga mats
  • Stretch bands
  • Water bottles

Personalized senior gift ideas

Give a meaningful gift with these simple yet personal ways to show your love and appreciation:

  • Call and talk about memories or favorite stories. Ask them some of these 20 questions seniors never get sick of hearing.
  • Arrange for balloons, a teddy bear, or fresh flowers with a heartfelt message to arrive outside of their door. Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned surprise?
  • Write a letter, paint a picture, or create a personalized key chain or decoration for their door.
  • Plan a fun video chat with friends, family, and, of course, beloved pets.
  • Send a personalized GrandBox, filled with senior-friendly gifts, snacks, a note from you, photos, and more.
  • Try out a DNA test — such as Ancestry DNA, which often offers holiday deals — to learn more about family history and origins.
  • Order a custom photo book from a photo website, or use prints of family and friends to craft your own scrapbook.

Give the gift of fun activities or help cover the cost of bills

Are there community activities your loved one enjoys but haven’t done lately? Purchase a gift card or tickets for them to attend in the future. It’s exciting to have something to look forward to, whether it’s a museum, the zoo, the ballet, or a favorite sporting event. If they prefer stimulating activities at home, consider a gift certificate for an online art, language, or computer class.

Pairing money or a gift card with a handwritten note adds meaning to something that may otherwise feel impersonal. Write a message letting them know how much you care, what your favorite qualities about them are, and how you look forward to spoiling them.

Reducing monthly bills, even by a small amount, can help relieve stress for your aging loved one. Consider covering the cost of their cable or phone bill for a month, or going in with extended family to pay for a longer period of time. If they have a car, prepaid gas cards could be a useful gift.

Talk with a Senior Living Advisor

Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.

Great gift ideas for seniors in assisted living, memory care, or nursing homes

For seniors with limited mobility and health challenges, comforting gifts are ideal. So are items that help them recall special memories and feel close to those they love.

Bathrobes, slippers, and socks

Affordable and cozy, slippers or socks with non-skid soles are safest for seniors. Robes come in a variety of styles and fabrics, so consider whether your loved one prefers shorter or longer styles, lightweight cotton, or thick terrycloth. Not sure? Brainstorm with their caregiver or choose something in between.

Delicious meals or gift baskets

A home-cooked meal is always appreciated. If you live near your elderly family member, prepare their favorite dish and drop it off. If that’s not possible, your loved one’s assisted living community or nursing home may make the meal if you share the recipe.

Take your loved one out for a meal. Depending on your loved one’s preferences, a nice dinner out is not only a great treat but it may give them the opportunity to do something outside of their normal routine. And dinner is not the only meal that can be a nice gift. Breakfast or lunch can be a fun experience and the food can be just as satisfying.

A basket of goodies makes an impressive, feel-good display. For seniors who like to practice hospitality, snacks that are easy to share make a great gift basket idea.

You might fill a basket with:

  • Cookies, chocolates, or candies
  • Coffee or tea
  • Spices and dips
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Meats and jams

Fidget quilts for seniors with dementia

Seniors with Alzheimer’s may become agitated or restless as the disease progresses. Often, these behaviors occur in the evening, and this evening onset of agitation or restlessness is known as sundown syndromeFidget quilts , also called activity blankets, provide tactile stimulation that can calm agitation. Not only can they be a helpful distraction and calming mechanism, but they’re also vibrant and a great custom gift idea!

Always-a-hit senior gift ideas

Whether your adult parent lives down the street or in another state, it’s likely that they’ll always appreciate new photos of you and your family.

A digital photo frame makes it easy to update family photos as quickly as you can push the share button on your phone. These frames can display one photo or scroll through several and they operate by inserting a memory card or using Wi-Fi to upload photos from your phone.

If you’re looking for a last-minute gift — or if you’re still unsure what to choose — these other senior gift options work well for any occasion.

  • Bath and body items such as lip balm, body spray, or lotion
  • Reading lamp or book light for reading
  • Subscription to their favorite magazine or publication
  • Creative journal for writing or drawing
  • Video-streaming subscription to watch unlimited movies and TV shows
  • Craft items such as yarn or patterns used to crochet or knit
  • Office supplies including pens, tape, and writing tablets
  • Personalized tote bags, T-shirts, towels, or paperweights
  • Subscription to Amazon Prime to make ordering items fast and easy


Meet the Author
Merritt Whitley, senior living writer and editor

Merritt Whitley writes and edits content for A Place for Mom, specializing in senior health, memory care, and lifestyle articles. With eight years of experience writing for senior audiences, Merritt has managed multiple print publications, social media channels, and blogs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University.

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.

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