Friday, November 12, 2021

Gifts Retirees Will Appreciate - Finding the Right Gift for a Senior

 Buying gifts for retirees and the older relatives in your family can be very difficult and frustrating.  Whether it is for a birthday, Father's Day, Mother's Day, Christmas or another holiday, you may find it extremely difficult to come up with an idea, especially if it seems they already own so many things they are currently trying to give away!  

How can you find the perfect gift for a senior citizen in your family?  What do you think they will want or need?  What can you buy an older relative that will not end up being re-gifted or given away?  Here are some basic ideas to get you started, including links to some of the items to make it quick and easy for you to purchase them.  However, not all the gifts need to be purchased online.  Many of the gifts listed here are things you can purchase locally.

Art and Craft Supplies

Does your family member enjoy painting or making crafts?  Paints, canvasses and other art materials (Ad) can be very expensive. Some people actually give up their hobby because they cannot afford to keep purchasing the necessary materials.  If you know their favorite shop, you may want to purchase a gift certificate to it, especially if it is small, locally owned business.  In this way, you not only help your loved one, but also a small business.  If you know exactly what they want however, you can save them a trip to the store by purchasing it for them and having it delivered directly to their home.

Many seniors also enjoy paint-by-number kits, or adult coloring books, (Ad) as a way to enjoy creating works of art, even if they do not feel they are especially talented.  I have even seen some lovely paint-by-number works of art for sale at the art shows they hold in my retirement community.  Often they are spectacular when they are finished. A final thought in this category is to take one of their favorite finished paintings and have it framed for them, so they can hang it in their home and display it with pride. 

A Shopping Trip for their Favorite Clothing Items

My father only likes to wear long-sleeve Polo style shirts with a pocket on the chest.  Although he owns them in a variety of colors, over the course of a year they begin to wear out.  Replacing them regularly with new ones is a nice way to enable him to continue to wear his favorite clothing item.  Almost everyone has a certain type of clothing which they wear frequently, and needs replacing often.  Do they need new walking shoes, a jacket, a sun hat, gardening gloves, or similar useful items?  Many seniors go without because they do not have a lot of disposable income, or they do not know where to buy these things.  If possible, take them shopping, so they can pick out something they actually would enjoy wearing, and you know will fit them.  This also gives you some special time with them ... a gift they may appreciate as much or more than the actual gift itself.

Sports Equipment

Many retirees are still active and involved in sports for decades after they stop working.  You may need to quiz them a little, but find out if they need a new golf putter, a new tennis racquet, a paddle for the paddleball court, a badminton racquet or some other item they need to pursue their favorite sport.  Even grandchildren can buy grandpa a box of golf balls or a tube of tennis balls.  (Ad)

Photo Gifts

One of our daughters purchased us an Aura digital picture frame, (Ad) which allows all of our daughters to upload photos directly to it, no matter where they are.  Now, we have a constant display of new and old photos appearing on the frame in our living room.  Our frame includes photos taken over 80 years ago of long deceased ancestors, as well as photos which were taken just a few days ago of our grandchildren.  We could watch the pictures glide by for hours!  We have it set so a new photo shows up every 15 seconds, but you can have your photos stay much longer before switching to a new one.

Other photo gifts a retiree might enjoy is a Polaroid camera (yes, they have begun making a new, improved version again) (Ad), or a photo album, especially if you give it to them already preloaded with a few pages of favorite family photos.  You can even send companies like Shutterfly a photo of a beloved family member or pet, and they can turn it into a special photo gift which they will cherish!  

Books and Magazines

Does your family member enjoying reading?  You could always purchase them the latest book (Ad) from their favorite author.  

However, has reading become more difficult for them because of vision problems?  Why not purchase them a membership to Audible? (Ad) For about $15 a month, they can download one book a month to their cell phone, laptop, tablet or similar device and listen to the books!  Many of the women in my book club use Audible and enjoy hearing their favorite books read by professional actors and actresses.  No one needs to give up reading, anymore, even if they have vision problems! Our daughter even listens to Audible books during her long commute. It is a terrific way to pass the time.

Consumable Items

Everyone has items which they love to use, but need to replace periodically.  This can include perfumes, after shave, make-up, face creams, favorite candy, wine, bourbon, and similar items.  Some of these items can be expensive to replace, so receiving them as a gift can be very meaningful to a retiree.  You might ask them, first, the brands of their favorite products, so you purchase them something they will actually enjoy. 

If they live in an Assisted Living community where their meals are provided, they still might want to keep a few favorite snack items in their private room.  Put together a care package of their favorite treats, including small boxes of cereal, bags of chips, fun size candy bars, and similar items.  They will love having something to snack on between meals!

Gift Cards

Gift cards to a favorite business can be a greatly appreciated gift.  Is going to Starbucks or some other coffee shop a special treat they often skip because they cannot afford it?  A gift card may be something which makes it easier for them to socialize with their friends.  Many senior citizens enjoy meeting friends at Starbucks, and other coffee shops like Coffee Bean, to get out of the house and chat.

Amazon cards (Ad) not only allow them to purchase whatever they want for themselves, but it also enables them to buy groceries in many parts of the country, by using Amazon Fresh or one of the other services they offer.  For a person who is skimping just to get by, this can be a greatly appreciated gift which enables them to buy their favorite foods.  If they are nervous about shopping for groceries at Amazon Fresh, help them get started.  It took me a couple of attempts to feel comfortable shopping for food online, but now I realize how much easier it has made my life!

Gifts to Avoid

Unless specifically requested, it is best to avoid things which most seniors do not need.  This would include decorative items for their home, such as new vases, dishes, picture frames, candles, collectibles, and any other items they have not specifically requested.  

In addition, do not give a gift of anything living which an elderly person may find challenging to take care of, unless they ask for it.  This means do not give them a plant, puppy, kitten or parakeet, unless they requested one and are involved in selecting it.  

Other things to avoid would be items which could involve using unfamiliar technology they are unprepared or unable to learn how to use.  A new cell phone, tablet, digital camera, computer game, or similar item might seem like a great idea to a young adult, but can end up being left in a closet or re-gifted to someone else by a senior who feels that using it will be too challenging.  

Technology Gifts Which Might Be Helpful

If you do purchase a technology gift, make sure it is something the recipient wants and will be able to use, with a minimum of assistance.  There are some "senior friendly" phones and other types of technology which can be a good choice.  

It took us a while to become accustomed to talking to our "Alexa" devices, (Ad) but now "she" turns on some of our lamps, reminds us when to take food out of the oven, and answers questions about the weather and other things.  Many seniors would enjoy having one, but be prepared to help them learn to use it. 

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