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The Best Gifts for Elderly Loved Ones

Written by Merritt Whitley
8 minute readLast updated November 24, 2021

Whether it’s for a holiday, a birthday, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, or just because, shopping to find the perfect present for your older parents or grandparents can be tricky. Sometimes, walking store aisles or browsing the internet isn’t enough.

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Gift giving is challenging because older adults have diverse and evolving needs. Some seniors don’t want a lot of “stuff” just sitting around or taking up space. For loved ones in nursing homes or assisted living, physical health issues, memory loss, and lack of space may make some gifts impossible to use. But other gifts that bring joy or address day-to-day needs could be lifesavers. 

Consider these gift ideas from people who know best: our readers and staff in senior living.

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 personalizedGrandBox, filled with senior-friendly gifts, snacks, a note from you, photos, and more.
  • Upload pictures of family members and favorite memories on a brand new digital photo frame.
  • 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.

Activity books or games

Games can be an excellent way to stay entertained whilekeeping 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
  • Deck of playing cards
  • Adult coloring books
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Video games for Wii or other popular consoles
  • Paint-by-number books

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 has 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.
  • MP3, CD, or record players will likely delight music lovers.
  • 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.

Help cover the cost of bills or fun activities

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. 

Let our care assessment guide you

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

Are there community activities they used to enjoy but haven’t attended 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.

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, your favorite qualities about them, and how you look forward to spoiling them.

Give seniors something useful

It never hurts to give a gift that can either simplify daily tasks, provide knowledge, or add enjoyment. Think about their personal likes, hobbies, and consider these options:

  • Water flosser or electric toothbrush
  • Multipurpose reachtool with rotating rubber grip head for grabbing items
  • Handheld vacuum cleaner
  • Foot spa to soothe tired feet
  • Plants or gardening tools for nature lovers
  • Pair of bird-watching binoculars or a species informational guide
  • Keurig, coffee mug, or special blend for coffee lovers
  • Calendars with a favorite theme or customized with family photos

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

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

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.

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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.

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

If you’re looking for a last-minute gift — or if you’re still unsure what to choose — these 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

Merritt Whitley is a creative copywriter at A Place for Mom. She has written for senior audiences for about six years and specializes in health, finance, and lifestyle content. Merritt has managed multiple print publications, social media channels, and blogs. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University, where she focused on journalism, advertising, and public relations.

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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