Selecting gifts for seniors is not always easy, and it becomes even more difficult if your loved ones have some form of cognitive or physical impairment. Indeed, you may look for something that is useful in everyday life, that the person is able to use, and, not last, that the person can like.
Here we provide a list of (more or less) original high-tech gifts for seniors with different degrees of impairment. For each product we indicate for whom it is adapted (e.g., early stage, moderate or severe cognitive impairment). We provide ideas for gifts for seniors with different price ranges, from very affordable to luxurious presents. For each gift we suggest the Amazon bestseller that we think meets best the listed usability criteria. But on Amazon you can find many other similar products, just select your budget and see the best gifts for seniors you can get!
The best gifts for seniors N. 1: Electronic grocery list organizer
It happens to all of us to go out to buy the milk, and come back with anything else but the milk. Well, this happens much more often to your beloved with memory loss. Writing the grocery list on a piece of paper is a good solution, but the items cannot be organized, and there is still a change that the person will forget to take the milk because it is the first item of the list, but it can be found only at the end of the supermarket. Original gifts for seniors to fix this problem are the Grocery List Organizers. You can add the items through a speaker when they come to your mind, and then print a paper list organized by department!
The best gifts for seniors N. 2: Sleep and activity monitor
Doing physical activity (e.g., walking) and sleeping well are two key elements that strongly impact everyone’s health and mood. Unfortunately, aging and pathologies such as Alzheimer’s disease increase the risk of sleep disturbances, such as insomnia, and often result in reduction of self-initiated activities, such as doing outdoor activities. Very often, people (and their relatives) are not aware that their sleep is becoming more and more disturbed, thus impacting on daily activities. Similarly, reduction of everyday activities may be slow and difficult to detect. The perfect gifts for seniors that start to progressively deteriorate their sleep/activity pattern are the activity and sleep trackers. This will help to detect disturbances very early, and also motivate them to change their habits. Furthermore, it may provide useful and objective feedback for the GP or medical doctors following your beloved.
The ideal tool is VERY EASY to use, wearable, with long battery duration (so that it does not need to be recharged everyday). It should give constant and easy feedback on the monitored activity (possibly also remotely, so that you can check the activity/sleep evolution yourself), and suggestions and motivational prompts (e.g., congratulate on a long walk, or setting goals for the next day).
The best gifts for seniors N. 3: Digital Photo Frame
Good memories are important to all of us: looking at the pictures of our last holiday, our kids enjoying an ice-cream, or our dogs running on the beach can improve our mood, that is why we often select a personal photo as a desktop background. But for elderly people who have memory issues (for instance due to Alzheimer’s disease) personal pictures can make something more: they can help them to remember events they may have difficulty to memorize. Seeing that their grandson got a master degree, that he had two twins or that their daughter is now living in Europe may help your beloved to stay oriented, and thus to feel more comfortable during conversations.
The ideal photo frame for gifts for seniors has a quite big screen (e.g., 12 inches) to account for visual impairments, can display photos and videos (which increase vivid memories), is VERY EASY to use, and can automatically turn off when you leave the room, so that you don’t have the impression someone is chatting in your living room. Remember, update the photos regularly, so you will make a new gift every time you visit your beloved!
The best gifts for seniors N. 4: Talking photo album
If your beloved prefers reading a book to watching TV, another possibility for high-tech gifts for seniors working as a memory aid is a talking photo album, where you can put pictures and record a speech or music. This may be ideal to remind people important events they have difficulty to memorize (e.g., mom, your sister has divorced, so stop asking her how is her husband), but also how to use the new microwave you gave her for her birthday.
In the ideal talking album you can add speech, sounds, or music to each page individually, so that it does not become confusing.
The best gifts for seniors N. 5: Anti-tremor cutlery
Enjoying a good meal with friends or family is something everyone enjoys, especially older people. But for those who have motor problems such as trembling and rigidity, eating can be perceived as an embarrassing activity, that they do not want to share. The solution is represented by high-tech anti tremor spoons, forks and knives, which can reduce the effect of trembling in a significant way. There are not so many on the market, but the existing ones have amazing reviews.
The best gifts for seniors N. 6: Digital Calendar Clock
Staying oriented in space and time is something many elderly people with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders struggle with. Unfortunately, already at moderate stages of the disease, several people with Alzheimer start to lose track of the date, and even of the season in which we are, which contributes to disorient them. External memory aids are the optimal solution in this respect, and a digital calendar clock is a type of gifts for seniors that can help to change your loved one’s life very easily.
Select a model with a large and wide screen, a bright display and an easy configuration which shows date and time at the same time (possibly with no abbreviations). It should be easily visible during day and night, without being disturbing.
The best gifts for seniors N. 7: Light box
Insomnia worsens with age, and is very common in people with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. Similarly, those people are often affected by mood disorders, such as depression, agitation or anxiety. One non-pharmacological treatment that has positive effects on both insomnia and mood is light therapy, consisting of being exposed to intense light every day. In order to affect the circadian cycle, it is necessary to use a light source of sufficient luminosity, much more intense that those used in ordinary home lightning. This can be obtained through a light box. See light theraphy for insomnia blog for more information on how to use it.
The ideal light box can produce light up to 10.000 lux should be light to be easily moved, and have an adjustable angle and height support to fit in different locations (e.g., over the TV). The presence of a timer can represent an added value, so that you can set it and you don’t need to check the time manually. The selected product has been used in clinical studies showing an improvement for winter blues.
The best gifts for seniors N. 8: Picture landline phone
Memory impairments are very common in older people, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. While it is difficult that they will forget how to activate the dishwasher they have been using for years, number sequences are often tricky to memorize. So telephone numbers, especially the ones your beloved has to learn in older age, may be too challenging to memorize (well, also for younger people). What is worse, due to memory or aphasic problems, your beloved may start to forget (or to take much time to retrieve) also people’s names, thus making the phonebook almost useless. But most of older people do recognize their beloved faces immediately. If this is the case of your beloved, an original gift is a call picture care phone, with pictures that can be placed on each button.
The ideal phone for someone with advanced cognitive and visual/motor impairments is a picture landline phone (no need to charge it, always on) with big buttons and big pictures over them. It must be VERY EASY to use, eventually embedding a 911 automatic call button (which should be possible to disable, in case you are afraid your beloved may press it accidentally). Receiving volume and tones should be high.
The best gifts for seniors N. 9: Digital shower with remote control
Taking a daily shower or a relaxing bath is something very important for hygiene and mood, and requires some intimacy. There are today many products allowing people with walking and standing difficulties to take a safe bath, ranging from hangs to adjustable chairs, steps and mats. But this does not fix the perceptual and cognitive impairment issue: what if my dad does not realize that the water is becoming too hot? Or if he is unable to select the right water temperature because he cannot adjust the water faucet? Or he doesn’t realize the water is flooding out from the sink? If you are concerned about these issues, or you just want to make a luxurious present that anyone at home can enjoy, think about a shower with a digital control!
The ideal digital shower as gifts for seniors has a remote control, so that people can adjust the setting remotely if needed. It is easy to set up, and allows you to control temperature, flow and custom presets.
The best gifts for seniors N. 10: Night light surface
When we wake up during the night in the middle of a dream we may feel disoriented and confused. This feeling can happen much more often to people with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. Even if he/she is still completely autonomous, it is not uncommon that your beloved wakes up often during the night, because of insomnia, incontinence, or because he needs to take medications. Instead of obliging your beloved to look for the light switch, or, even worse, to sleep with an annoying light on, think about a night light surface!
The ideal gifts for seniors can stand on the night table, have a warm light which does not disturb your beloved sleep (and the sleep of other persons sharing the room), can be switch on and off very easily, are spill resistant, and stay cool to the touch.
The best gifts for seniors N. 11: Video games for physical activity
If your GP suggested your beloved to make more physical activity, but he/she is too lazy and not motivated, why not giving him/her a motion controlled video game, maybe to be played with someone? Statistics say that nowadays more and more seniors play video games for fun, and that they can have positive effects on their health. So if your beloved likes video-games (or you think he/she may like them, even if he/she never tried), video games controlled by his movements like the Nintendo Wii are the ideal gifts for seniors. Just select the topic he/she prefers (sport, dance, cycling, or whatever else).
When selecting the game, pay attention that it is user-friendly, easy to setup, and not too challenging at the physical and cognitive level. Researchers are starting creating physical games specifically adapted to elderly people with cognitive impairment; but they are not available on the market so far. Starting with commercial video-games may be anyway a good option! You can find more information on the effects of video-games on older people at video-games-elderly blog.
The best gifts for seniors N. 12: Video games for cognitive activity
There is evidence that some cognitive games for elderly people seem able to contrast the effects of aging on our brain. So, if your beloved likes video-games, the perfect gifts for seniors are cognitive game packages. Researchers are starting creating cognitive games specifically adapted to elderly people with cognitive impairment; but they are not available on the market so far. Starting with commercial video-games may be anyway a good option! You can find more information on the effects of video-games on older people at video games for elderly blog
When selecting the game, pay attention that it is user-friendly, easy to setup, and not too challenging. Multi-player games represent an added value, because they can combine social and cognitive stimulation.
The best gifts for seniors N. 13: Automatic pill dispenser
Taking the right medications at the right time is of crucial importance to guarantee their efficacy. But when people have memory or attention problems (or even just visual impairments), this may become challenging and demand some effort or external control, especially if they need to take several different pills in different moments of the day and night. If your beloved wishes to take the medication but he/she sometimes forgets them or takes the wrong ones, the right solution may be an automatic pill dispenser.
The ideal pill dispenser to be selected as a gift for seniors can contain different slots of pills, allowing delivering pills several times a day for several days (so that it can be setup once a month, or similar). It should send an alert (e.g., a loud alarm, and/or blinking light) when it’s time to take the medications, and have batteries, so that it can be moved if the person leaves the house. The most luxurious models can also send a text to the caregiver is the pills are not taken, but if your beloved is still autonomous and just needs a reminder, a regular electronic pill dispenser may be enough.
The best gifts for seniors N. 14: Simplified radio/MP3 player
Listening to radio or music is one of the favorite activities of many seniors. But when the dementia stage is too advanced, even switching on the radio may be difficult, especially the modern, high tech products. If your beloved likes music, very useful gifts for seniors could be simplified radio/MP3 players, even better if it has a retro style. Any device with few options and very simplified functioning may work!
The best gifts for seniors N. 15: Object finder
If your beloved keeps loosing their keys, phone, and wallet, the ideal gift is a key finder! Select a model easy to use (the ones combined with the apps are cool, but may be to complex).