Is there anything harder than coming up with the perfect gift ideas for older parents? Fortunately, there ARE practical gift ideas for older parents that will make shopping easier for you while making life easier, safer, and cozier for them.
For years I struggled with this dilemma. I didn’t see my parents often enough to really have a clue what they wanted or needed. And of course, when I would ask, I would get the typical parental response, “Oh, honey, we don’t need a thing.”
Thanks, but that really doesn’t help me out. After all, no one wants to get the “Crummy Daughter” award and not buy her parents anything! So I was left on my own to wonder aimlessly through stores (which I despise at any time of the year) or asking other people, “What are you getting for your parents?”
Finally, after lots of trial and error (and definite gift-flops), I’ve come up with a list of practical gift ideas for older parents that will benefit them while making your shopping less of a nightmare.
By the way…bonus points if you actually install any of these items for your parents and teach them how to use them if they’re new! They’ll appreciate the help.
Encourage your parents to record their memories
One thing I’ve found that most older people enjoy is talking about “the good old days” and sharing their memories.
My Life In A Book is a gift you can order for your parents that will encourage them to record their memories and will turn those recollections into a printed book.
The way it works is this: your relative gets an email each week that they respond to (and can upload a photo if they wish) that gets turned into a print book at the end of the year.
My grandmother wrote out a small book of her most important memories and events in her life and made copies for family members. She’s been gone nearly 35 years but that simple book is still one of my treasured possessions.
This method makes it so much easier!
Gift ideas to help your older parent feel safer at home
Ring Video Doorbell – Whether they want to admit it or not, a lot of older parents (especially widows) are nervous about answering the doorbell. Even if they’ve got a peep hole to look through, being able to get a good view of the porch gives them confidence that they’re safe when they open the door. And if they can see that a package is being left at the door then they know they don’t have to make a mad dash – which might prevent a fall.
Medical Alert System – We’ve worried a lot about my elderly mother-in-law taking a fall or having some other emergency and not being able to get to a phone to call for help. Knowing they’ve got an alarm on their body gives everyone peace of mind – and might just prevent a tragedy.
Illuminated Electrical Outlets – Falls are one of the main sources of injury to older people. These electrical outlets are easy to install and the lights come on automatically when it’s dark.
Bathroom Grab Bars – Okay, I admit that grab bars might not be the first thought that comes to your mind when you’re thinking about gifts, but bathrooms are great places for accidents. You’ve got wet slippery surfaces and it only takes an instant for something to happen. Take it from someone who’s broken a bone from a fall in the shower, grab bars are going to make your older parent feel a lot safer and will enable them to remain in their home longer.
Gifts that make things easier to read
Magnifying Glass Floor Lamp – My grandmother used to do a lot of sewing and had a magnifying lamp similar to this one. It made it so much easier for her to see her stitches and extended the years that she could do her needle work.
Large Button Cell Phone – This has been another problem my mother-in-law has faced – she can’t always see the numbers on her cell or landline phone. If you go into a cell phone store you’re unlikely to find a model that is designed with senior citizens in mind but for anyone with vision problems, the little numbers and small buttons make it difficult to place (and answer) calls. This model is compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile networks.
Large Number Indoor/Outdoor Thermometer – I’m not sure what it is, but every older person I know seems obsessed with knowing what the temperature is outside (maybe it’s just the folks I know). This thermometer can be hung outside and the large numbers can be read from a decent distance. We actually have one hanging under our carport that we can see from the kitchen window. Makes my dad very happy to know at any given moment how cold or hot it is outside.
Gift ideas to keep your older parent comfy and cozy
Electric Foot Warmer – Cold tootsies are no fun! A set of electric warming boots keep those feet warm whenever they need it. The covering comes off and is washable.
Heated Car Blanket – Unless you’re driving alone, it seems that someone in the car is always colder than anyone else. This heated travel blanket plugs in to your car’s accessory outlet to warm up colder passengers. Honestly, I need one of these myself.
Fuzzy Slipper Gripper Socks – These socks actually come in several different colors and are super soft. I’ve got a couple of similar pairs because the floors in our old house were very slippery. These socks feel good and give you that extra grip to keep your feet where they belong – on the ground.
Keeping a few of these practical ideas in mind makes it easier when it’s gift giving time. We don’t have to resort to items that need dusting or that will never be used. Practical gifts can help our parents as they begin to face age-related changes which will keep them happier and more independent for as long as possible.