Heart-Felt Gifts for Elderly Relatives

Do you find yourself searching for the perfect gift for an elderly family member or friend? Often older people are downsizing or are in a nursing or assisted living home with limited personal space. These issues can be challenging. You may also be facing the person who says he doesn’t really need anything. Well, search no more!

As we do every year, SageMinder has put together some ideas for you. What we have found is that the most valued gift is the “Gift of Time” – and you can keep this very inexpensive. The gift of time or companionship is what elderly seek the most as they are often lonely. Companionship can be just visiting or taking them out to dinner, theatre, ballgame, or other special event.

Check out More Gift Ideas for Seniors

We have centered this year’s gift ideas around inexpensive gifts that truly come from the heart and  a special section for those living in an elderly facility.

Cash, Gift Cards and More

  • Gift Certificate for Professional Cleaning Services – Last year my sister noticed that mom is not the housekeeper that she used to be, so she hired a profession cleaning service for a couple full days of cleaning. Mom was delighted as she left all the things she does not like to do for this service. Create your own certificate and offer your personal cleaning services.
  • Food of the Month – Does your loved one enjoy wine, chocolate, or cheese? Enroll them in afood of the month cluband have it delivered to their home, month after month.
  • Grocery Delivery– Sign them up for grocery delivery from a local grocery store. Walmart has already been doing this and more grocery chains are coming on board. Check with their local grocery store to see if they offer this service.
  • Gift cards – Gift an appointment with their favorite hairdresser or barber. Offer a special treat to their favorite restaurant, department store, garden center, etc. Or create your own gift cards donating your time to do something helpful.

Personalized Items

  • Personalized Jewelry– A necklace engraved with names is a personal favorite of mine. A family tree with the names of my grandchildren that hangs near my heart was a very touching gift to me. Check out the wide variety from Things Remembered.
  • Wine and Personalized Glasses Set– Personalizethe bottle’s label with names or a special message.
  • Coffee or Tea Basket– For the coffee drinker or tea lover you can purchase baskets already made up or use your creativity. Include some biscotti sticks or favorite snacks. This giftcan include personalized mugs from Vistaprint that allows you to customize with a photo, logo, or text. Check out what Starbucks has to offer in their Recharge and Renew gift baskets.
  • Blankets or throws– Always being cold is a for sure thing as we age, therefore a lap cover is a welcome gift. Personalize it with a favorite photo. There are so many custom options available. Check out Walmart, Costco or Shutterfly. Are you a quilter, create your own. A thoughtful gift that warms the soul.
  • Personalized D-A-D Set Three Pack Craft Beer– Make Dad’s day with this unique beer gift, complete with three multi-award-winning pale ales. Not only are these crisp pale ales packed with American hops and citrus aromas, the labels can be personalized with his name and a message.
  • Engraved Grandchildren Photo Frame– A picture of grandchildren will put a smile on anyone’s face. This lovely framemakes a perfect gift- personalized with a special message of your choice. Don’t forget to put your own special photo in to make it even more personalized.
  • Family Rocks Doormat– Thisdoormat features a pile of smooth, round stones with each one having a family member’s name etched on it.
  • Personalized Calendar– Customize a calendar with family photos and important dates. There are many places to find these personalized calendars but here is a link to Shutterflywho will personalize special dates with a photo and text.

Gift of Time

So many elderly are isolated because they can no longer drive or have limited mobility issues- making the best gift a gift of your time. Many elderly would appreciate a visit more than spending money on them. One mother told her children she would rather see them do something as a family over a gift. They usually plan an evening trip to a nearby town to see Christmas lights so they included her and she said she enjoyed that more than the small children did. No extra expense!

When visiting, bring out the family albums and reminisce over some coffee and cookies. Take along a tape recorder and record the family stories and history. Take along an old movie that you know they will enjoy. Play a game of cards or a board game. My mother in law loved Boggle and Master Mind. My dad likes to play Phase 10. Your family favorite games are probably already in the family. Ask them over to help decorate the tree, sing some Christmas carols and bring out the hot chocolate.

Create little certificates that show some of the things that you will be doing for them over the next couple weeks or months. Take them: grocery shopping, visiting friends, over for dinner, bring dinner in. No limits here.

There are so many twists to this gift. Just let the imagination run free. Consider incorporating things that you know will give pleasure. And don’t forget to send a Christmas card. So many enjoy the surprise of a Christmas card in the mail. Your thoughtfulness is sure to be a winner with the Gift of Time.

Inexpensive, But Thoughtful

  • Large Print Calendar– For the visually impaired. I do this every year for my parents since my dad is visually impaired and record birthdates, anniversaries, and appointments for them.  These calendars are available in many places but here is a link to one from Independent Living Aids.
  • Christmas cookies– Baking is one of those things many elderly are not able to do. Help out by putting together a selection of your own cookies or visit Fields for Christmas cookiesand brownies that will arrive in a tin, box, or gift basket.
  • Custom gift basket– Create a gift basket giving it that personal touch with practical items. These can be some toiletries that are used every day, a pair of slippers and some reading material, favorite foods, cheeses, or chocolates. Not creative, shop online for a vast selection.
  • Donate to charity– Support causes they are passionate about and be sure they receive an acknowledgement that it was done on their behalf.
  • SageMinder– Give the gift of independence with SageMinder Care Calls. SageMinder is a low-cost way to provide home monitoring and medication compliance in a person’s home with Automated Check Inor Medication Reminder Care Calls or Live Operator Daily Wellness Calls!
  • Favorite Things– Create a wreath, basket, or tree with a variety of their favorite things. Does dad like fishing? Use various fishing lures, hooks, etc.  Design a wreath with various tea bags for the tea lover. Be sure to give them the left overs. Attach little gift certificates with things that you will do with them or for them in the coming year. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself so you do not forget.
  • Schedule a Family Portrait– Select a time far enough in advance so that everyone can get it on their calendar and get the whole family together for a family portrait. If getting siblings and their families together is too much of a task, do individual pictures.  Local department stores often have a Portrait Center or use a Professional Studio.
  • One Touch Jar Opener– Designed to open virtually all jar shapes and sizes, thisuseful devicecan be used with the touch of a button. It easily fits over the lid, the button is pressed and it does the hard work.
  • Low Vision Playing Cards and Holders– Adapted playing cards with large print makes playing card games easy and fun.Low vision cards have jumbo size letters and numbers that are so easy to see! Playing card holders are much easier to use than trying to hold multiple cards in one hand.
  • Memory Loss Digital Calendar Day Clock– This day clockclearly spells out the full Day of the Week, Month and Date in large, bold letters with no confusing abbreviations. It’s bold, sharp & non-glare display can be seen across the room and great for the visually impaired and the elderly.
  • Automotive Standing Aid & Adjustable Safety Vehicle Support Handle– With a no-slip handlethis easy to install device makes it easy to stand from your car.
  • Gut Busters and Belly Laughs– Provide some humor with “Jokes for Seniors.” This is just one of the many books you can find that will bring humor and laughter to your love one.
  • Grandparent Talk– While sharing family history and stories withthese cards grandchildren will discover what it was like to live as their grandparents did and be able to connect through conversation. This site has other games available too.
  • Dressing Stick– A lightweightuseful device for anyone who faces problems during the dressing process. A “C” hook at one end and a specially designed “S” shaped “push-pull” hook at the other makes it easier to position clothing for dressing.
  • Elastic Shoelaces– Elastic shoe lacesstretch from 24″ to 58″ so shoes slip on and off—no bending or untying required.
  • Sock Aids– Simply slip your sock over thesock and stocking aid, insert your foot and pull on the straps—no awkward bending and twisting required.
  • Easy to Slip on clothing– Elderly individuals with mobility issues need items that are easy to put on and take off. Consider purchasing clothing items that are easy to wear, such as jogging suits and cardigan sweaters.  Remember buttons and snaps can be difficult for the elderly.

Nursing Home or Assisted Living Residents

Living in a nursing home can be lonely and represent a loss of their beloved treasures: their home, personal items, neighborhoods and friends. Showing that you care with a thoughtfully selected gift can ease those feelings that are so prevalent around the holidays.

  • Poinsettia– A fresh Christmas arrangement or even a small potted tree.
  • Lap throw– Personalize it to make it extra special.
  • Magazines subscriptionor Books on subjects of interest.
  • Basket of cookies & candy– Don’t forget to include their favorite.
  • Updated family portraitor other framed family photos.
  • Small bulletin or photo board– Allowing other family members to post reminders or photos.
  • Treat for the Staff– Take in a special treat so that they can present it to the staff. Store bought or homemade, it won’t matter the staff will love it.
  • Gift of time– Even just a few minutes to hand deliver a Christmas card or give them a hug is so appreciated. If they are able to leave the facility, plan a small outing to drive around town to see Christmas lights.
  • Holiday decorationto brighten up and personalize their room. Remember to pick these up after the holiday is over and store for next year.
  • Calendarwith dates marked for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Personalize with photos for that extra special touch.
  • Stationery, note cards, greeting cards, pens and stamps. Address book with addresses written in for family and friends.
  • Top up their account. Many residents appreciate a little cash for in-house services like the general store and hairdresser, and it can cover optional activities and outings.

Smart Shopping Tips for Nursing Home Residence

  • Avoid strongly scented perfumes, lotions or flowers due to resident or staff allergies.
  • Be cautious with breakable itemsthat can pose a safety hazard or valuable items that could go missing.
  • Gift modest sized portions of foods. Better to bring in more later than to have it go to waste.
  • When gifting anything that will require launderingbe sure to sew in a label with the recipient’s name on it so it does not get lost in the laundry or find its way to other resident rooms. The facility may have these available and in iron on versions too.
  • Check with the familyor staff first when gifting any food. The recipient may have certain dietary restrictions.
  • Since there is very limited space do not buy gifts that take up a lot of space or are heavy.

Whoever the gift is for, it is important that you put a little thought into it. Make sure your gift suits them, showing just how much you care. It will be so warmly received.