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Great Electronic Christmas Gifts for Older Folks and the Downright Elderly

Blogger, writer, and social media maven. I love the internet and have been blogging and writing online since 1996.

These days there are lots of tech saavy seniors.

These days there are lots of tech saavy seniors.

What Are Good Electronic Gifts for Seniors?

When you are in your twenties, thirties or even your forties, finding good Christmas gifts for people in their sixties and beyond can be a real challenge. Most older people don't need any more tee shirts that say "Over the Hill and Loving it" or golf and travel gadgets. Granny's closet is chock full of fuzzy slippers and she has more scented soap than she can ever use. This Christmas, how about considering an e-reader, digital camera or iPad for the older people in your life?

Things to Consider When Shopping for Older Folks

There are a few things that are special about buying for the older crowd.For starters, there is a wide range of difference in the abilities and interests of older individuals. Most ten year olds fall within a pretty standard ten-year-old range. They have only been on the planet ten years so the differences between most them are still minimal—but just wait!

At age seventy, differences between people in terms of physical health, interests, life experience and acquired abilities as well as disabilities are immense. One person may be running marathons while another is hooked up to an oxygen tank in a nursing home. Yet another will have started a new business in his sixties or be volunteering with the peace corps while his fellows have taken up golf and bridge. It is important to take the wide range of individual abilities and preferences into consideration when buying holiday gifts for older folks.

The factors that have shaped a long life make for wide individual variations, but one thing is for sure: Tablets, laptops, e-readers and various tech gadgets are wonderful holiday gifts for older people and are often overlooked by the young as possibilities. If you want to give your great-aunt Tillie something other than a flannel nightgown this year, here are a few of my top suggestions.

the Amazon Fire 8-in screen  works for video and movie watching as well as reading.

the Amazon Fire 8-in screen works for video and movie watching as well as reading.

Amazon Kindle Fire

This is the perfect gift for the techno-phobic senior as well as for the computer literate hip retiree. Many older people already shop online and know and trust Amazon, so the familiar name is a plus. In fact, many seniors are Amazon Prime members already and will welcome a portable device on which to watch all those free movies. Many retired seniors still use desk-top PC's and will welcome the idea of a potable device on which to watch movies, read, play games or listen to music. The interface is totally user-friendly. All a person needs is reliable access to wi-fi. The Kindle Fire has been around for a few years so most of the bugs have been worked out and it just keeps getting better and better.

There are 7 to 10 inch screens available with and without 4G capability and with a variety of storage capacities and at a variety of price points.The Kindle Fire is really an eminently customizable tablet at a bargain basement price. Check out all the options on the Amazon site while keeping in mind the specific needs of the seniors in your life.

How It Works

I think the Kindle Fire, in all its glory, also offers an easy introduction to the latest technology to wary elders by creating a bridge from traditional books to electronic reading which pulls them into using a tablet in a very comfortable, non threatening way. In addition, it offers easy access to a garden of visual and auditory content at and beyond. From podcasts to music and full length movies, there is a world of content to choose from. The web is accessible via whatever browser you like including Amazon's own " Silk" browser. Where wi fi is an issue ( such as in a nursing home) a Kindle Fire with 4G capability can tap into the internet via cell towers. Plus, on some newer models there is an excellent camera, ideal for Skype and Facetime. The Kindle Fire gets even the most resistant technophobe used to using a large, easily navigated, virtual keyboard and to the experience of downloading " apps" and surfing the internet in a seamless way. It's a win/win all the way around.

best selling basic kindle e-reader makes great gift

best selling basic kindle e-reader makes great gift

Basic Kindle E-Reader

One step down from the Kindle Fire is the basic Kindle e-reader. It is perfect for older people with vision problems and also makes a good introduction to using a virtual keyboard and downloading for real newbies. The price has fallen to rock bottom territory in recent years,and combined with a nice cover and reading light, is a very good choice for someone who used to have to rely on waiting until the large print edition of a beloved book came into the library. Most seniors are delighted to be able to enlarge and change the font to suit their individual visual needs rather than having to root around for their reading glasses. Amazon's patented e-paper screen is easy on aging eyes too. Just be sure that your senior gift recipient has access to Wi-Fi and an Amazon account and knows how to download selections and you are good to go.


Streaming Video Players

A fabulous gift for anyone with WiFi and a reasonably new TV is a streaming video player, which allows one to stream movies and TV programs wirelessly, directly from the internet to a big screen TV at the touch of a button. Roku and Apple TV lead the pack, but there are many options out there. While you may have cut the cord years ago and been streaming TV and watching movies on your iPhone for years, the older folks in your life may well still be watching TV the old fashioned way. If they prefer to keep their old TV and it is a relatively modern flat screen, then get them a Roku Box, hook it up and show them how to use it. It is easy to install and easy to use. It works with HD and ordinary TV and the newest model comes loaded with features.

You can sync existing Netflix, Amazon, Hulu accounts and a number of streaming internet TV and radio channels to Roku or any streaming player. . Great for getting golf tips or watching baseball games as well as movies, or for accessing Yoga or daily fitness workouts. While streaming video players are a boon to all ages, they are particularly useful for older people who might not go to the gym or the movies in bad weather or who can easily feel isolated. Internet TV is definitely the wave of the future and streaming video players let seniors get in on it now.

Cameras and Digital Gadgets

Older people have a lifetime of photos, usually stored in scrapbooks and shoe boxes. For any reasonably computer literate person, the Hammacher Schlemmer Christmas catalog offers an especially easy to use, dedicated digital photo scanner which can digitize a lifetime of memories in the blink of an eye and there are a number of excellent scanners available which can not only scan photos, but will digitize old letters, postcards, and other ephemera as well. If you have an older friend or relative with a massive photo and memorabilia collection, this is a wonderful gift. It goes without saying that the original material should be stored not discarded, but having everything all together on a computer or in the cloud would be very cool and make it easy to locate and send photos to friends and family.

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Read More From Holidappy

A new point and shoot digital camera that is small, lightweight and easy to use would be a great gift for grandparents or for an older couple who like to travel. I came across a wonderful site doing research for this article called Eldergadget. It is not only a treasure trove of gifts for the mature crowd, but this site also rates and suggests electronics and gadgets in terms of their usefulness to seniors. They have an excellent selection of point and shoot digital cameras with large, easy to use controls. Check out the site for reviews and tips on what cameras offer features most useful to seniors..

100 year old woman meets iPad

A Final Word

People are not stereotypes. I know eighty year-olds who are super techno- saavy and forty-somethings who are total Luddites. While it is true that most seniors grew up with black, rotary dial telephones in the days before computers, it is wise not to assume that they are still living in the world of their youth. All fourteen year olds do not spend all of their time text-ing their bff's either. Many older people have embraced iPads and smartphones with enthusiasm, and a number younger people have not and yearn for the " good old days" before they were born.

However, the lifestyle of older people no longer in the workplace tends to mean they have more time at home and less access to or need to know about new, cutting age technology.Their resources and needs are different from what they were in younger years and their money is often spent on medications and trips to the dentist rather than trips Europe.

What I have tried to do here is not to patronize the old, but to help younger people think in terms of technology when buying holiday gifts not just for kids and contemporaries, but also for the elders in their lives. Technology is a big tent and we all need to be inside it.

In some ways, the oldest among us can benefit from technology more than anybody else. If you don't think so, have a look at the video below in which a 100 year old, visually impaired woman uses her new iPad for the first time.


Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on December 08, 2015:

Good idea, aesta1. I love my Roku and can't imagine life without it

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on November 27, 2015:

I want to look at the streaming video player for a close friend.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on February 19, 2012:

Glad you like this one Alocsin. I think that 100 year old woman in the video is a real inspiration. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. Much appreciated:-)

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 18, 2012:

Not that I'm a senior yet, but I would love to get those gifts. I'd love to give them as well but they are a bit pricey, especially the Fire. Voting this Up and Useful.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on January 26, 2012:

Absolutely right on, peanutroaster " introduce them to the possibilities and then get out of the way" easier said than done, I might add :-) thanks for a wise and cogent comment.

peanutroaster from New England on January 26, 2012:

You have to be patient and willing to help out when needed but not hover around and do everything for them or push the buttons when the person who is new to the device is too slow for you. Teaching older people technology is not that different from kids. You have to introduce them to the possibilities and then get out of the way.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on January 23, 2012:

Call me slow, but after seeing the Kindle Fire commercial around 100 times since Christmas, I'm finally lusting for one, too! But then I'll have to find a 5-year-old to show me how to use it. Oh wait! I'll just call one of the geeky geezers I know. ;D

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on December 30, 2011:

Happy New Year to you too VS-- it is nice to be back on Hubpages and see some of my old pals still here. Here's to happy hubbing in 2012

VioletSun from Oregon/ Name: Marie on December 30, 2011:

I like a few of the items you suggested. The Amazon Fire is a gadget I may try as I have been reluctant to purchase a Kindle.

By the way, thank you for your comments in my hub about suffering being optional. I missed your comments and that of my other Hubpages friends until tonight. Good to see you back in Hubpages. :) Have a Happy New Year filled with plenty of prosperity.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on December 29, 2011:

Hi Rowan-- I think either of those cellphones would be great, but the real issue is your grandmother motivated to use it? . I have an 85 year old neighbor who has a Jitterbug but still isn't comfortable using it, even thought the buttons are big and it is very simple. The buttons still confuse her and she is still thinking like it is a black rotary dial phone plugged into the wall. I keep telling her I will come sit with her and make calls to her that she can answer while I am in the room to troubleshoot and then she can practice making calls to me to get comfortable with the phone.

If your grandmother is motivated, can use a computer even a little and can get a little dedicated, individual instruction from you-- a cell phone is great-- the key is if she is interested in learning how to use it or not and that really depends on her. You need to just patently take her through making calls and not confuse her with texting or taking pictures. I think it is great that you want to keep in closer touch with her and I bet she will really like the idea of that. merry christmas to both you and your grandmother:-)

RowanOrrlie on December 28, 2011:

Lots of good ideas here :) I hadn't thought about an IPad or a Kindle for my grandparents before - considering I just got my Kindle Fire a few days ago, I'm not sure my grandmother would be able to handle it at first. Actually, I know it's a few days after Christmas, but I'm still debating her gift since I'm just not sure if its the right fit for her. I wanted to get her a techy gift, so I'm between ordering her a cellphone since I figure that these senior models are just basic enough for her to understand. Right now, I'm between Jitterbug and this prepaid SVC phone I saw at Walmart --does this even sound like a good idea? We live fairly far away from each other so I thougt it might be a good way to keep in touch.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on December 23, 2011:

Glad you liked it-- isn't Virginia amazing?

SanneL from Sweden on December 23, 2011:

Virginia's story is just so impressive. What a delightful woman!

So instead of some fuzzy slippers to grandma this year, an ipad can open up a whole new world for her.

Great hub. Voted up on this one.

Best Wishes!

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on December 18, 2011:

I love that video, don't you? Virginia is just amazing and I love her limerick. thanks for stopping by, Nell. Good to see you.

Nell Rose from England on December 18, 2011:

Hi, I totally agree with you, I think the trouble with younger people is that, probably like I thought at that age, is the fact older people have no idea what they are doing with technology, its only when you get older do you realise that the person you are when young, is the same person you are when older, so therefore if you love technology then you will whether you are fifty seventy or one hundred, so your ideas are great, and it proves it in the video!

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on December 13, 2011:

Thank you Cloud Explorer. I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub and thank you for your kind words about my writing-- as any writer will tell you, what we want most in life is for people to read what we write and to like it:-)

Hi Nancy-- I love that video too. I love my kindle, but am now lusting after the Kindle fire. Imagine being able to download and watch movies on it-- I just love the idea. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Much appreciated

Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on December 12, 2011:

Robie...great job on this hub. I absolutely love the video about Virginia and her Ipad. I haven't been able to afford one yet, but I do have a kindle, a laptop and a desktop....pretty good for an old geezer....

Mike Pugh from New York City on December 12, 2011:

Yes, I have gave it a good look and am impressed to see how you make words work well for the viewer. Thanks again for such a beautiful hub, & I am sharing this one for sure.

I also love the video at the end. Thanks for the kind words on my hub as well.

Mike Pugh from New York City on December 12, 2011:

You have won my heart with your gift of technology through words, I must return here later to fully embrace your writing style.

I love to admire great writers on hubpages & many other places on the web as well, so I will definitely come back to read more of your hubs as well.

Great topic for the Christmas season, which fits in perfectly for many people looking for stocking stuffer options. Voted Up!

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on December 12, 2011:

The Kindle Fire seems like a good choice for anyone, even if you do not like to read. I guess people who like movies can now watch these without fighting over the main TV.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on December 10, 2011:

Hi Jeanniw-- that phrase " geeky geezer" is catchy, isn't it? Thanks for the votes and glad you liked the hub

Hello ST-- isn't that iPad video great? You could just see the world opening up for Virginia. It spoke volumes IMHO. Thanks for your vote, your enthusiasm and your support with, as always, a pity and wonderful comment.

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on December 10, 2011:

What an outstanding hub giving vital information, resources, and thoughtful reflection to younger folks about their elders.

The iPad video brought tears to my eyes. Watching Virginia's engagement with the process, filtering out the wine party going on around her, was a delight to see. And then her poem at the end. Breathtaking!

Super, super hub and rated up and everything else.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on December 10, 2011:

This is all great advice. Many senior citizens pick up on new technology faster than those that are decades younger. Also, I really like the term Geeky Geezer in your title! Voted up and useful!

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on December 10, 2011:

Thanks for stopping by cheeky one:-) The Roku box is definitely impressive. I have one and I love it. Just hied myself over to your profile and found I was not following you and have rectified that little situation-- thanks for taking the time to read and comment and may you and yours have a wonderful holiday season.

Cassandra Mantis from UK and Nerujenia on December 10, 2011:

Wow, just saw the link for this on Facebook and had to check out the Roku Box! Looks impressive! Great hub! Cheers! :)

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on December 10, 2011:

Hope you dad enjoys the Kindle Fire, Bail up and thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment.

Bail Up ! on December 10, 2011:

Great insight as to what to get the elders. I think I'm sold on the Kindle Fire for my Dad this Christmas. I appreciate the suggestions, they are perfect!

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on December 10, 2011:

Thanks for the comments--yes I too suffer from severe techno lust and want want want a KIndle Fire..... and I really do think that while technology is useful for all ages, it often has super benefits for the elderly. Check out that video of the 100 year old with her new iPad:-)

Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on December 10, 2011:

Cool gifts, I'm only in my 50s but would love any of those. I already have a Kindle and iPad, I need a streaming video thingy :) Great hub as usual.

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on December 10, 2011:

Perfect! I am years away from being a grandparent or geezer, and I would love any of these cool Christmas gifts! Love how you explain that the Amazon Fire is like training wheels for tablet computers or smartphones. The digital scanner is something that I could use, too - I literally have drawers of photographs that need to be organized. Rated up across the board. Best, Steph

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