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Ideas for Choosing Gifts for Elderly People

Susan is the last of 8 children, has raised 2 children, and has spent 26 years teaching high school kids. She grew up with a strong mother.


What gifts do you buy for elderly loved ones or elderly neighbors who might have everything they want or can use?

It is difficult to buy for the elderly. They do not ask for much, and many do not care about more gee-gaws to place on the shelf to dust.

Sure, they love when you come to visit and give them the magnate with your child's school picture to place on the fridge, especially if it is a child they are close to and visits often. That picture is a sweet reminder that they are still loved, but does it help them physically or practically?

I am not suggesting you not give these sweet, meaningful gifts to your elderly loved one. I am just suggesting you look around and understand the situation the elderly person is actually in, so your gift can help the person beyond a sentimental thought.

You must think about what they truly need.

The elderly sometimes have special needs that we do not think about because we are not experiencing those age-related needs, yet.


Gifts for the Elderly on a Limited Income

There are so many elderly people on a limited income. They budget every dime because they have constant medical and pharmacy bills. Find out what they really need. The best way to do this is through observation.

  • A grocery gift card. A grocery gift card helps them buy food, which they need and want. It allows them to keep more of their money for other needs in their lives. You might also want to check out the grocery stores who will deliver groceries to the elderly person’s home. Be sure to give the elderly person the grocery store’s number so they can place their order. The grocery gift card is a great idea for a group of people to go together as a group gift for the elderly person or elderly people in their lives—the more the merrier.
  • A fleece blanket. Many elderly feel colder as their circulation slows down. A fleece blanket that matches their favorite chair is a great gift. They can just reach back and grab the blanket while they are watching TV.
  • A hobby gift card. Many elderly have hobbies to keep their minds sharp. A gift card to a hardware store or a hobby store will bring them enjoyment that they can choose on their own.

Miscellaneous Gifts for the Elderly

  • Puzzle books. As mentioned before, the elderly find activities that will keep their minds sharp. Sudoku, word searches, crosswords, and maze books are enjoyable.
  • Find out what their hobbies are and buy gifts they will enjoy. For instance, if your grandmother likes to do cross stitching and quilting, buy her quilt blocks that need needlepoint. Don’t forget to look at the package for the colors of thread needed for the cross-stitching.
  • Many elderly are learning the computer. First, buy them the most basic book about how to use the operating system on their computer. Some do not understand how to open up Word or My Documents, let alone how to use them. Going through the book and highlighting through the “gobble-dee-gook” so they have a clear list of directions will help them.
  • Buy them CDs or DVDs with music and movies from their youth. They will enjoy the memories. Also, many elderly love Hallmark Channel movies. The Hallmark Channel has great storylines and are G rated.
  • Magazine subscriptions. Many elderly love magazines that concentrate on stories, recipes, hobbies, etc. Find out their interests and get them a subscription to a magazine they will enjoy reading.

Gifts for the Elderly With Health Issues

  • A shower or bath chair. Some elderly find it hard to get into the bathtub or to stand long enough for a shower. A shower or bath chair will help them be more independent. If it is a bath chair, you might also want to get them a shower head with a hose so they can use it while sitting.
  • If the elderly person has arthritis, an electric can opener and an electric jar opener are "must haves" for them. Handheld can openers can be difficult without arthritis, and opening a jar that seems like Hercules tightened is enough to frustrate all of us who have been caught pounding the jar on the countertop, hoping we don't crack it or break the jar first. These two items would be very much appreciated.
  • If you can afford it, a medic alert button they can wear around their necks or stick in their pocket. Sometimes if the elderly fall, they do not have the upper body strength to get up or to drag themselves to the phone. These buttons are lifesavers. You can find some of these medic alert buttons for as little as $15 a month. Do a little research and make sure the service ties into whatever phone service or 911 service the elderly have.
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Read More From Holidappy

Be Sensitive to the Elderly

Do not forget that the elderly people in your life used to be young with lives filled with many interests. They were not always “old” or dependent on others. They may feel sensitive about the issues they are currently faced with. Approach your gift-giving with sensitivity to their feelings. Many of them are still of sound mind, but their bodies do not work like they used to when they were younger. Many of them were used to being self-sufficient, but now they have a limited income and pride that will not allow them to ask for anything.


Meaningful, Free Gifts for the Elderly

Sad but true, it is easy to forget about our elderly while we are living our busy lives. They become lonely and feel forgotten and unappreciated. The rate of depression in the elderly is high. A visit, a phone call, or a card may be just the way you can lift their spirits. During the year, help them shop for others or help them bake or create something they want to give or display. Most of all, remember your presence and time are gifts you should share with them all year round.

Dedicated to the memory of my mother. I miss you, Mom! You meant so much to me and are forever in my heart.

© 2011 Susan Holland


Angela Brummer from Lincoln, Nebraska on June 10, 2012:

Very nice hub!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on April 10, 2012:

Thank you, Moonlake. I do miss her. She was 88.

Happy 90th to your mom. I love your gift ideas for her and know she appreciates them. My mother loved to send cards with personal notes. The stamps are such a help. One of her last wishes was that we send cards she had written before she went into the hospital the last time. She was so worried about them. We did send them, and the people were so happy to get them from her.

Thanks for reading and the vote up. :-)

moonlake from America on April 10, 2012:

Sorry for the loss of your Mom.

My mother will be 90 next month and she always likes it when I would send her stamps and a mixture of cards or even a box of Christmas cards.

Voted Up.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on April 10, 2012:

Hi Michael! Yes, they did spend time raising us, and we should reciprocate. I miss my mother so much and wish I had gone to see her more or even called her more. I just always thought there was time. I did thoroughly enjoy coming up with ideas for buying gifts for her, though. Anything that I thought would make things easier or that would bring her enjoyment was such a thrill to see her face light up. :-)

Thanks for reading!

Micheal from United Kingdom on April 10, 2012:

Great gift ideas Susan,

I guess the best gift is our time.

They spent there time raising us. We should reciprocate.

Voted up plus 4/5 buttons sharing.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 25, 2012:

Excellent definition that is not age-based.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on January 24, 2012:

Alocsin, I do not believe you are elderly. Your picture looks very young. :-) I should define elderly as those who are losing their independence because that is where life takes us.

Thanks for dropping by and voting!! :-)

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 24, 2012:

Excellent suggestions. I love hubs that talk about choosing gifts for me ;) You never did define what elderly meant -- I'm a lot closer to that term than I'd like to be. Voting this Up and Useful.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on January 08, 2012:

Oh, Epi, I am so excited to go read it. I will link it at the end of this hub. :-) I truly feel honored!

I know what you mean about late March weather in the middle of January. Same here in MO. I hope we see some snow. :-)

All I can say to you is thank you!

epigramman on January 08, 2012:

....hello dear friend - well I was inspired enough by this hub to write one last night and it was posted on my hub page as 'Dolores, won't you please come out tonight!'

....and as I speak right now there is no snow by the lake, it is relatively mild for this time of year and the sun is shining with no wind - more like a day in late March than right in the middle of winter on a January day --- hope all is well with you today and I really don't think the lake is going to freeze over this year but we shall see - it's still early yet and anything can happen

lake erie time 12:54pm

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on January 08, 2012:

Epi, I love your ideas! I think you and I could thoroughly enjoy a Cheap Trick concert together. LOL How 'bout REO? Are ya feelin' REO? Journey? Bon Jovi? YEAH!! But we are still youngsters. I am talking about the elderly (which we aren't) who are probably young at heart, but they can't get out as much or are financially frugal out of necessity. Thanks for your kind words, and please message me when you write your poem. I do not want to miss it!! You are a WONDER!! :-)

Thanks so much for reading! It is always a pleasure to read your comments! Have a lovely day. Is it snowing? I think MO is going to miss out on the snow. I hope not!

epigramman on January 07, 2012: night at the cottage by the lake with Cheap Trick live at Budokan with full moon flirting with the clouds over the lake with mild temperatures for January - reggae earlier and Santana and Hendrix too - but oh my lordy this is such a beautiful thoughtful and sensitive hub subject and only someone as nice and special as you could come up with this - I will write a poem based on this lovely idea of yours - you inspire me to write something which will come up in a day or so - thank you for writing this because seniors as we all know are living feeling people too ... lake erie time ontario canada 1:29am

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 15, 2011:

Thank you, Susan. I am sorry for your loss, too. My mother was always cold too. I found observing those simple everyday things showed me what my mother really needed. It made shopping for her much easier.

Thanks for dropping by! :-)

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on December 15, 2011:

I like all of your suggestions for gifts for the Elderly. I always found it hard to find things that my Dad would enjoy before he passed. He was in a Veterans hospital and I was forever buying him warm clothing as he was always cold.

So sorry for the loss of your mother.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 11, 2011:

Angie, a digital frame would be a great gift. Everyone is coming up with more ideas. I may have to go revise it. :-) Thanks for dropping by and thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Angie on December 11, 2011:

I love your article! I really like the mention of electric openers due to arthritis. Another idea is a digital photo frame that can hold hundreds of pictures. Family can update it every few month for those who are not comfortable with computers. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family this holiday season. Lots of love!!!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 11, 2011:

That is a wonderful idea, Patricia!

Patricia Hoffman on December 11, 2011:

Another good idea for the elderly is to give a gift certificate to get their hair done, like a perm or something that they can't really afford. As a hairdresser, I have customers that do this for their elderly Moms and Dads!!

Good Blog Sholland10!!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 07, 2011:


Thanks for the cell phone idea. That would be helpful.

I am glad you dropped by! :-)

Rpenafiel from United States on December 07, 2011:

Your list is great! Thanks for sharing. Another good item that can be added in this list is an easy to use cell phone. The elderly will surely appreciate to receive a cell phone that is not complicated to use and offers practical features. One example of such feature is an emergency response system, which is very useful in enhancing their safety. The Just5 Easyphone is one of the few phones that work this way.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 06, 2011:


I agree! I wrote this out of experience with my mother and grandparents. You can only give so many paper weights, knick-knacks, and boxes of candies. (Not to minimize these gifts when they come from the heart - I gave several of them when I was younger). After watching and listening to my mother throughout the year, it became apparent that a grocery card was the best gift. Then she had a little extra money to order things she wanted from catalogues. It was a win, win situation.

Thanks for dropping by and reading!!

icountthetimes on December 06, 2011:

This is one of those hubs you visit and wish you'd created it yourself. We often see threads details gifts for men, children and so on, but rarely do we see information relating to choosing a gift for the elderly. We should aim to make this time of year special for everyone!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 05, 2011:

It is strange not planning Christmas around my mother. She passed on wonderful traditions and values. What a wonderful memory you had with your friend. That sounds like something my mother would do then we would laugh about later. I am sorry for the loss of your mother and your friend. It is difficult, I know. Hang on to those precious memories... Thanks for sharing. :-)

JT Walters from Florida on December 05, 2011:

Hi Sholland10,

My Mother died this year as well so I know exactly how you feel. My Mother died young though. I am laughing as I write this but I use to just humor my 96 year old friend. Because she was disabled I would do whatever she wanted around the house. I would tell her she had possesion of my body. She use to make me scrub spots on her kitchen floor. I didn't see the spots but I scrubbed anyway because she said they menatlly bothered her. I still couldn't figure out what she was bothered by but whatever she wanted. Later we found out she had cataracts and the spots were in her eyes. No wonder I could never get those spots that bothered her off her kitchen floor but I scrubbed as hard as I could. Later we had a terribly good laugh about it. I miss those moments of laughter. She died a week after my Mother.

God Bless you as well.


Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 05, 2011:

Oh JT,

What a treasure you were to your friend. Not only for what you did for her, but for just visiting with her. I lost my 88 year old mother last year, and I miss her so much. She was unable to do many things for herself and appreciated everyone who helped. Now that she is gone, I realize what a gift she was to me and our family. I stated that we have to observe the elderly because she was so used to doing for herself and did not want to ask. It sounds like you knew how to be a true friend. God Bless You and Homesteadbound for all you have done.

Thanks for dropping by and reading! :-)

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 05, 2011:

Thanks, JS! Christmas time can be a lonely time for our elderly because they have lost so many of their loved ones. It is up to us to help them through during the whole year. Making them feel special and fulfilling some of their needs is the least we can do after all they have done for us. Thanks for dropping by, reading, and sharing! :-)

@Homesteadbound, thank you and keep up your extremely wonderful mission. I know it is so appreciated. :-)

JT Walters from Florida on December 05, 2011:

Hi sholland10,

I use t have a 96 year old friend who passed away this year. I always did chores she needed done and couldn't dof or herself. She always wanted her plants pruned and it would do it.

But perhaps her favorite gift was a subscription to her hometown paper mailed to her in Florida so she could keep track of her friends.\

She was crippled and didn't get out often so I would bring her take out Chinese food and we would have a picnic in her living room.

I think I received as much from her as I ever gave although we teased each other terribly.

Thank you for this hub. I think it is so important we care for our elderly.


Cindy Murdoch from Texas on December 05, 2011:

As are you!

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on December 05, 2011:

Wow these are great ideas! And I was thinking Chap Stick! I like the point you make that the best way to know what folks need is through observation. If we spend time with the elderly, whether a friend or family member, we can get to know their needs. When I see my grandmother each Monday I get a good sense of what she likes, doesn't like and an idea of what she might need. As you mentioned, many of our elders pinch their money because they have to. They have way too much of a burden on them as prices rise on everything (especially medication, transportation and food) while their incomes remain the same. Great insight in this article. I enjoyed reading. Voting up and sharing!


Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 05, 2011:

Then you are an angel who brings lots of joy. :-)

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on December 05, 2011:

Always glad to help the elderly! That is one of my ministries in life!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 05, 2011:

Homesteadbound, YES, that is a wonderful idea. My mother quit having pets a long time ago, so I did not think of that. Some may need a good electric can opener because the hand-held ones are hard to handle, which brings me to another idea I had forgotten. One year for Mother's Day, I got my mother an electric jar opener. It really helped her because of arthritis. Thanks for bringing up the pets and for helping me think of another idea. I am so glad you dropped by! :-)

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 05, 2011:

Pamela, you are right. My mother always said she didn't want anything. Since there are so many of us (kids and grandkids), we would go together and get a grocery card for her. It was something she could actually use. Her birthday was when we would spoil her with things we thought she would want. :-) Thanks for dropping by!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 05, 2011:

Oh my gosh, Diogenes! I am about to bust a gut here from laughing so hard. I hope you put that on your list for someone. You never know - you may get exactly what you asked for! I hope so. Thanks for dropping by!! :D

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 05, 2011:

Hi Dexter, I'm glad it was helpful. Thanks for dropping by! :-)

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on December 05, 2011:

Hi, sholland10! These are great gift ideas. I have found another thing to be appreciated is also pet food or items for their pets if they have pets. They love their pets.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 05, 2011:

Cardisa, you are so right about not always thinking about those who are close. Some elderly people never speak up because they don't want to be a burden. They are not burdens, they are what has shaped us into what we are. Thanks for dropping by! :-)

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 05, 2011:

The elderly aren't always easy to buy for and you have some great suggestions.

diogenes from UK and Mexico on December 05, 2011:

Thoughtful article. I can't speak for my fellow seniors in decay, but I rather fancy one of these blow-up, life size dolls to share my lonely nights.

I may be a bit odd. I have voted your hub up etc

Dexter Yarbrough from United States on December 05, 2011:

Hi! Thanks for the great information, which has been very helpful to me in finding some gifts! :-)

Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on December 05, 2011:

This is great. We often forget about the elderly when shopping for gifts, unless they are really very close. Thanks for reminding us to remember the people who have taken care of us.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on December 05, 2011:

Thanks, Kate! Yes, we must remember that they once had lives just like we do. Sometimes we forget that. My grandma told me that she felt like she had the mind of a 25 year old stuck in the body of a 93 year old. Her body would not allow her to do what her mind wanted to do. We just need to keep those types of things in mind.

Thanks for the vote and for dropping by and reading.

katedonavon on December 05, 2011:

I like your hub with great gift ideas for older people, especially the tips for focusing on their hobbies. Some older people like to do jigsaw puzzles while others prefer to watch TV, and so forth. You're right, they are individuals just like all the rest of us. Voted up and useful.

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