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10 Gift Ideas for Nursing Home Residents & Elderly Seniors

Older adults are notoriously hard to shop for. They have everything, so they usually don’t need or want much. Compounding the issue, if they live in a retirement community or nursing home, they likely don’t have space for additional things.

So how do you get a gift that shows how much you care without burdening them with extra stuff? It’s especially tough this year, when the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced many older Americans and care facilities to lock down to protect themselves or residents from contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Fortunately, you can have gifts shipped to your loved ones, including nursing home residents, although you need to check the rules of the facility they’re in. And even if you’re able to hand-deliver the gift, you won’t be able to see them in person except through a glass door or window. So the holidays will be an especially lonely time for older Americans. And that’s all the more reason to choose a thoughtful gift that lets them know they’re loved and thought of.

And this gift guide removes the guesswork with gifts suggested by older adults, including those who live in retirement communities and nursing homes.

Best Christmas Gift Ideas for Nursing Home Residents & Older Adults

The best Christmas gifts for older adults make their daily routines easier or add a touch of luxury to their everyday life — like a fancy coffee maker, an easy-to-use gadget, or a cozy blanket. Additionally, they always appreciate gifts high in sentimental value, especially since what older adults want most is time with loved ones.

Christmas Gift Ideas Under $20

Crossword Puzzle Pencil

Since adults in long-term care, senior living, or family caregiving situations don’t typically have space for more things, a budget under $20 is less limiting than it can be for others. After all, they don’t need a bunch of extra stuff in their way unless it’s sentimental or useful.

1. Crossword & Brain Game Books

To keep their brains sharp, many older adults enjoy puzzle games, like crosswords and Sudoku. According to a 2019 study published in The Journals of Gerontology, these games help improve their cognitive skills and overall brain health. Another plus is that they’re fun and often time-consuming, as it’s easy to become engrossed in completing a puzzle.

If an older adult on your list enjoys crosswords, get them a copy of “The New York Times Monday Crosswords Omnibus” edited by Will Shortz. For Sudoku lovers, go with “Funster Tons of Sudoku” by Charles Timmerman, which contains over 1,000 puzzles of various difficulty levels. Or go with a comprehensive puzzle book, like “3-in-1: Word Search, Crosswords, and Sudoku” or “Lower Your Brain Age in Minutes a Day,” both by Brain Games.

Select a large-print crossword puzzle book for someone who has vision problems or difficulty writing in small spaces due to rheumatism or arthritis — for example, the “The New York Times Supersized Book of Sunday Crosswords: 500 Puzzles” edited by Will Shortz and Eugene T. Maleska.

2. A Jigsaw Puzzle

As with crosswords and Sudoku, a jigsaw puzzle can provide hours of solo entertainment while keeping the mind sharp. But a challenging puzzle, like a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, is also suitable for completing together when you’re able to stop by for a visit.

Opt for one with a seasonal snowy scene. Or go with one that speaks to their interests. Treat an art-lover to a “Starry Night” puzzle or a world traveler to a puzzle featuring Positano on the Italian coast.

If you have more room in your budget, have Shutterfly turn a cherished photo into a custom puzzle. And if you have significantly more room in your budget, get the puzzle-lover a puzzle desk and storage system so they can work on their puzzles wherever they’d like, even if that’s in bed.

3. A Magazine Subscription

The anticipation of a well-loved magazine is a special joy, and a magazine subscription is a gift that keeps giving throughout the year. Lightweight and ideal for intermittent breaks, the right magazine provides refreshing variety to an older adult’s daily routine. Popular choices include Reminisce, Smithsonian, and National Geographic. Additionally, some magazines, like Reader’s Digest and Guideposts, are available in large print. And most magazines have digital versions, so your recipient can view them on e-readers like the Amazon Kindle, where they can adjust the print size.

If you have more room in your budget, go with an ongoing subscription to a service that allows them to read multiple magazines from an e-reader. Kindle Unlimited lets them read current issues of popular magazines in addition to unlimited access to every Audible audiobook and over 1 million e-books. Alternatively, subscribe them to Magzter, which gives them unlimited access to over 5,000 magazines and newspapers, or Readly, which grants them unlimited access to over 3,000 current issues plus more than 75,000 back issues.

4. A Bedside Organizer

Many older adults aren’t highly mobile, and almost anyone would appreciate having everything within reach. With a bedside organizer, they can stash their stuff right next to their bed. Just install it between the bed frame and mattress, and it’ll hold necessities like the remote, a cellphone, a water bottle, and a book or e-reader.

5. A Walker, Wheelchair, or Rollator Bag

People who rely on special equipment to get around need a place to stash their stuff. It’s not easy for them to get up for the TV remote, phone, or a pen whenever they need one. Plus, when they’re out, it’s difficult to carry a bag or purse while worrying about managing their transport device. So help them keep all their stuff right where they need it with a convenient organizer bag. Vive makes bags for a wide range of transport devices, including walkers, wheelchairs, rollators, and even crutches.

6. Nonslip Bath Gear

While a shower mat isn’t the most fun gift in the world, it’s definitely one that shows how much you care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a quarter of Americans 65 or older fall every year, sometimes resulting in serious injuries. So consider a helpful nonslip mat, such as the Moen tub tread mat. Or go with tub tread stickers, which work better in stand-alone showers and are more comfortable to sit on if they take baths. But if your gift recipient lives in a nursing home, check with the facility to see what’s allowed.

If you have more room in your budget, set up their bath with safety devices like a tub safety bar they can grab while they step in or out of the shower or a shower safety seat they can sit on while showering to avoid the risk of falling.

7. An Essential Oil Diffuser

According to WebMD, aromatherapy is excellent for promoting relaxation. So if the older adult on your list could use a little soothing calm, treat them to an essential oil diffuser. The Tenswall essential oil diffuser is an ultrasonic diffuser that features two misting modes, four timer modes, and seven different LED light colors, so it can double as a night light for those late-night trips to the bathroom or fridge.

Additionally, it features a large water reservoir that keeps the mist going for up to 8 hours. So it also doubles as a humidifier that lasts through the night to keep the older adult in your life comfortable while they’re sleeping. And when it runs out of water, it automatically shuts off to prevent overheating. Plus, its bamboo-patterned cover will look pretty sitting on their nightstand.

If you have more room in your budget, pair the diffuser with a set of essential oils.

8. A Customized Photo Creation

As much as older adults appreciate photos of their loved ones, they eventually run out of space on their walls. This holiday season, up your photo game by giving a practical gift customized with family photos. They get a reminder of their family with something they already use every day. Use a service like Shutterfly to customize a keychain, coffee mug, acrylic tumbler, calendar, or tote bag. Just upload your photos, and Shutterfly prints them on your chosen gift.

Or opt to DIY. Homemade photo crafts also make excellent and affordable gifts.

9. A Visit From a Therapy Dog

A visit with a therapy dog can be a precious experience. Somehow, dogs can make even the most curmudgeonly person smile. They’re also a way to brighten someone’s day with a welcome visitor, even when you can’t be there yourself. And while most senior care facilities have strict limitations on visitors during the pandemic, they typically allow therapy dogs and their trained handlers to visit. Thus, according to the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, arranging a visit from a pup is an excellent way to show an older adult they’re still loved.

If your loved one lives in a retirement community, assisted living center, or nursing home, first contact the administrator to get the approval. Explain your plan to arrange for a therapy dog to visit your relative. Then have them contact the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. You can also do your an online search to find certified therapy dogs in your area.

Visits are usually free from volunteers. But if you have the means, you can also donate to the Alliance of Therapy Dogs or ask about the volunteer’s favorite animal charity as a way to give back.

10. A Video Chat

As we get older, we tend to feel isolated from others. Whether because of retirement or a lack of mobility, older adults often feel less engaged in their communities. And though many develop new friendships in retirement communities, others experience even greater loneliness and disconnection. The Health Resources and Services Administration reports that nearly half of older adults experience loneliness regularly.

Plus, the closer we get to the end of our lives, the more focus we put on what really matters. And that tends to be our relationships — not more stuff. So any time with loved ones is especially appreciated. And research proves it: In a 2017 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, survey participants reported feeling more loved and appreciated from social interaction than material gifts.

And when you can’t be there in person, technology can come to the rescue. Instead of your usual phone call, arrange to talk to your relative via Zoom or Google Meet. Even if they don’t have a computer, tablet, or smartphone, facilities often have computers available for resident use. And if needed, you can call ahead and ask one of the caregivers to help if your loved one isn’t technology savvy. Plus, video chat has added benefits — it allows you to get the whole family together in one video gathering no matter where they are in the world. So you can make this gift extra special by turning it into a party. And your older relative gets to enjoy the holidays with all their loved ones.

Christmas Gift Ideas From $20 – $50

Lap Desk Mini Table Coffee Laptop Work From Home

While it’s still true older adults don’t need much in the way of stuff, a bigger budget lets you get them practical gifts they’ll use, including things to make their lives more comfortable and helpful tech. It also affords them gifts that will brighten their space or keep them entertained.

11. A Lap Desk

Movement becomes more challenging as we age, and many older adults and nursing home residents find it difficult to be out of their bed or chair for long periods. But items like reading glasses, water, books, or tissues can be difficult to handle while seated or lying down and hard to reach on side tables. Moreover, holding a book for long periods can be tiring or difficult for arthritic fingers. That’s where a lap desk, complete with a book holder, can prove the ideal gift.

Choose a model with extra features for holding books, cups, and e-readers, like the Ihayner foldable lap desk. This model also comes with a bonus storage drawer for keeping pens and notebooks handy.

12. A Bed Wedge Pillow

Anyone forced to spend a lot of time in bed could use a bed wedge pillow. These help them stay comfortable while sitting in bed, whether reading or watching TV. And they provide extra support to prevent aching necks or backs.

13. A Personal Space Heater

Older adults often have trouble staying warm, and if they live in a retirement community or nursing home, they may not have control over their thermostat. So a personal space heater keeps them comfortable. This one is quiet and comes with safety features to prevent it from accidentally causing a fire, including an automatic shut-off system if it overheats or gets knocked over. Plus, it comes with the bonus of a cool air fan, so your loved one can use it to stay comfortable in the summer too.

14. Soothing Relief

Many people suffer from various age-related aches and pains and would welcome a practical gift to help soothe them. If they suffer from neck and shoulder pain, a microwavable lavender-infused heating pillow can help. My dad and stepmom both have one of these and swear by them. They work for sore muscles, and my father, who suffers from migraines, often uses his to help with headaches.

15. Smart Plugs

There’s no need to get up when you have your lights or other appliances plugged into a smart outlet. If your older relative has an Alexa or Google Nest smart home hub, these plugs operate hands-free with simple voice commands. If they don’t have one, the plugs also work through a smartphone app. Additionally, you can set a timer function to turn devices on or off automatically on a set schedule. Installation is easy and fast: Simply plug the smart outlet into a wall outlet and connect it to the Wi-Fi.

16. A Long-Handled Grabber Tool

Everyone can use a hand reaching into tight spots sometimes. But for older adults, stooping to grab something like a newspaper or their keys is especially problematic. Thus, a grabber tool with an extra-long reach and a magnet on the end is a handy gift.

17. A Terrarium

Fresh flowers or plants brighten up any living space. But cut flowers die, and a houseplant can require frequent tending. But a terrarium avoids these issues. With its own tiny ecosystem and landscape, it’s an unusual and welcome gift, and if done correctly, it requires minimal (if any) care.

18. A Window Bird Feeder

Avid bird-watchers don’t have to leave the warmth of indoors with a Nature Anywhere window birdhouse feeder. Even for those not generally into bird-watching, it’s the perfect gift to bring nature “indoors.” The clear perch attaches directly to a window via suction cups, so they’ll have a clear view of their colorfully feathered guests. And it’s an ideal gift for those who are housebound or who have difficulty getting outside.

19. A Board or Card Game

If you talk to someone regularly, the conversation may lag at times. And that’s where board games come into play. They’re fun and engaging, and word-based games like Scrabble can help everyone exercise their mental muscles. A 2020 review published in the IEEE Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine found that board games, video games, and virtual reality games can help those with dementia, such as patients with Alzheimer’s. The therapist who worked with my mother, who had dementia, played word games with her all the time. Plus, if you can’t see your gift recipient in person, many board and card games are playable in tandem via video chat.

A few games ideal for virtual play include:

  • Boggle. Like Scrabble, this classic wordsmithing game helps keep older adults’ minds sharp. Only one person needs to own the game — they can show the letter board on camera. Everyone else just needs a pencil and paper. For extra fun, opt for a super-large version of Boggle. It gives you additional letters (six-by-six rather than the traditional four-by-four rows), so you can make more complex words, thereby keeping the game going longer. Or go with a bookshelf version, which lets them easily store the game without it taking up too much space.
  • Yahtzee. The classic dice game Yahtzee is easy to play virtually. Each player needs their own dice and a Yahtzee sheet to track their progress. But you only need to get your older relative a copy of the game. If the rest of you don’t have supplies on hand, players can use an online dice roller and online scoring sheet. In this budget range, you can also opt for a high-quality leather dice-rolling cup and a pack of scorecards.
  • Pictionary. Pictionary is another classic game that easily translates to virtual play. While you’ll have to forgo the board to play online, it’s still a hilariously fun and doable game. Just decide on a points goal — for example, first to 10 points. Each player just needs a timer and a digital drawing board — like Microsoft Whiteboard or Zoom’s whiteboard feature. If you’re drawing on a smartphone or tablet, try Explain Everything Whiteboard. Or keep it simple with a pen and paper. You also need an edition of Pictionary for the category cards. (Although you can also play for free using an online generator.)
  • Welcome to Your Perfect Home. In Welcome to Your Perfect Home, players take on the role of architects attempting to build the perfect town in 1950s America. It’s a card game, so to play it virtually, one person needs to own the cards and show them, and all other players only need a pencil and paper. It’s the perfect game for large families, as the box says you can play with up to 100 people.
  • Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. You spend most of this cooperative Sherlock Holmes game reading from newspapers, looking at maps, and discussing the solution to the mysteries at hand. The Jack the Ripper & the Mysteries of West End version comes with 10 cases, including four involving Jack the Ripper.
  • Railroad Ink. Railroad Ink is a roll-and-write game in which players aim to connect as many exits on their boards as possible with dice rolls. Players only need a sheet of graph paper, while the host reveals all the cards to the camera.

20. Adult Coloring Books & Pencils

Adult coloring is an ideal hobby for creative older adults that keeps their minds engaged and their fingers nimble. And while it’s possible to pair a coloring book with a set of pencils for under $20, a bigger budget lets you stock them up on a trio of adult coloring books plus premium art supplies, like a set of 72 artist-quality, oil-based pencils that come in a convenient wrap-style carry case or a set of 100 gel pens for making bright colors or fun glitter effects.

Christmas Gift Ideas From $51 – $100

Electric Tooth Brush Heads Black White Red

A larger budget means even more room for buying the older relative on your list gadgets to help make their lives easier, entertainment, and luxury gifts like bedding and sleepwear.

21. A Smart Home Hub

A smart home hub like the all-new 2020 Echo Dot is a multifunction device perfect for older adults. It controls all of their smart home devices — like smart light bulbs, smart vacuums, smart appliances, or anything hooked up to a smart plug — with simple voice commands.

Plus, according to Daily Caring, a website for caregivers, a device like the Echo Dot can even help people with dementia. My mother’s dementia caused her to ask the same questions  repeatedly, have difficulty remembering things, get anxious when loved ones weren’t around, and need ongoing entertainment sources. While there’s no substitute for personal interaction, the Alexa-enabled device can help with all those things. It can instantly answer questions like, “What day is it?” or “What’s on TV tonight?” And it plays music, gives weather reports, reads the news, tells jokes, checks sports scores, reads audiobooks, and makes phone calls — and it does it all with just their voice.

22. A Smart Streaming Device

If they love TV and movies, an all-new Roku Ultra gives them access to a virtually unlimited TV and movie roster through subscription streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Plus, the new 2020 version has the fastest and most powerful processor ever, so their TV and movies will load even faster. The interface is also more responsive, and they can stream smoothly with a longer range — even if they’re rooms away from the router. It also comes with the ability to hardwire via Ethernet.

Additionally, it’s easy to control. They can use the included voice remote to play whatever they want using simple voice commands. And if they ever lose the remote, they can press a button on the Roku, and the remote plays a sound so they can find it.

23. A Rollator

For older adults who have trouble walking, a rollator like the Medline aluminum rollator or the slightly-over-budget ProBasics aluminum rollator provides two modes for getting around — it doubles as a walker or wheelchair, with the added benefit of providing a convenient seat when needed. Plus, unlike heavy and bulky wheelchairs, they’re easy to fold and stash in a car trunk. While not quite as sturdy as a wheelchair, you can’t beat the convenience.

24. An Electric Toothbrush

Electric toothbrushes may seem like a luxury item, but they’re also practical: They clean significantly better than a manual toothbrush. Plus, according to Delta Dental, they’re easier for people who have dexterity issues like arthritis. The vibrating bristles do most of the work for them, so they don’t have to move their wrists as much, and the larger handles are easier to hold.

So if the older adult on your list isn’t already using one, help them keep their teeth in top shape with a state-of-the-art brush like the electric toothbrushes from Burst, which is clinically proven to remove 10 times more plaque than a manual brush. It features one of the strongest motors, which produces 33,000 sonic vibrations per minute. It also has unique nylon and charcoal bristles that are naturally antimicrobial and help whiten teeth. Plus, it can brush in three modes: whitening, sensitive, and massage. And the long-lasting battery gives users up to four weeks of brushing on a single charge.

25. A Hobby Kit

Hobbies give older adults something stimulating to do. They also help keep them engaged and provide them with a sense of purpose. So a gift that helps older adults participate in hobbies they love is invaluable.

A few kits to try include:

  • KnitCrate. If the older adult on your list enjoys knitting, go with a three-month subscription to KnitCrate. Each month, they’ll get two skeins of KnitCrate’s premium in-house yarn in limited-edition colors, an exclusive knitting pattern, and an exclusive crochet pattern.
  • Quilty Box. In this budget range, you can get a quilter two monthly boxes of quilting supplies from Quilty Box, including 2 yards of fabric, a spool of coordinating thread, one or two notions or tools, and a publication that includes a featured artist profile, tips, and three patterns: a full-size pattern from the featured artist, a charm square-friendly quilt pattern, and an English paper-piecing project.
  • Sketch Box. Get an artistic elder a three-month subscription for art supplies from Sketch Box. Each month, they’ll get five or six exclusive art supplies like ink, pens, pencils, paint, and brushes delivered to their door.
  • Adults and Crafts. For those who just like to make stuff, go with a three-month subscription to the Adults and Crafts Crate. Each month brings them a new and different project — from making candles to clocks to wine carriers. And each box contains all the tools, materials, and accessories they need to complete the craft.
  • Studio Calico. While not a subscription service, you can stock up your paper-crafting loved one with supplies for activities like card-making or scrapbooking with a few kits from Studio Calico. They bundle supplies like paper, stickers, and stamps in themed kits, like the Take It Easy documenter kit, which is ideal for a vacation scrapbook.
  • Man Crates. Likewise, Man Crates isn’t a subscription service, but it offers dozens of maker kits for various interests. Boxes include all the supplies needed to make everything from a wooden mini-arcade game to a leather belt, fishing lures, and flavor-infused gin.

26. Luxury Sleepwear

Everyone loves something cozy to sleep in, and while pajamas are practical, a luxury set isn’t something many would splurge on for themselves, which makes them ideal for gift-giving. Oprah Winfrey chose Eberjey pajamas as the world’s softest for her 2018 Favorite Things list. Or go with a classic pajama set from Pajamagram. They’re 100% cotton and double-brushed for extra softness to keep the recipient comfortable while looking classy.

Or you can pick up a luxury robe. The classic robe from Snowe is soft and cozy. Made of 100% terry cotton, it’s also quick drying.

27. Comfy Slippers

Help them keep their toes warm and protected when they’re walking around the house or nursing home. A pair of plush slippers is a treat for anyone’s feet. Ugg, the makers of comfy boots, also specializes in slippers. Soft sheep fur lines the Tasman slipper for women or men, and it has a rubber sole that makes it equally suitable for lounging around the home or running out for the mail.

28. High-End Bedsheets

No matter what age we are, we spend more of our lives in our beds than in any other place. So why not make them the comfiest place possible? Online retailers like Luxor Linens offer 1,200 thread count 100% Egyptian cotton sheet sets for less than $100. They even offer a 30-day trial which means if you don’t love the sheets as much as they think you will, you can return them at no additional cost.

29. A White Noise Machine

Some people have trouble falling or staying asleep because they’re sensitive to background noise. In that case, hook up the older adult in your life with a white noise machine like the one from Snooz. It features a real fan inside, so the sound doesn’t come from a looped recording. Plus, there are 10 different settings, so they’re sure to find one that helps them sleep.

30. A Heated Blanket

And if they’re bothered by the cold, treat an older relative to a heated throw blanket. Sunbeam’s microplush electric warming throw blanket is not only cozy, but it’s also machine-washable.

Christmas Gift Ideas Over $100

Senior Woman Using Tablet Smiling Video Chat

A budget in this range lets you splurge on the special older adult in your life with gifts that keep you connected, keep them entertained for the long-term, or make daily life a little more comfortable.

31. A Digital Picture Frame

Older adults who live in limited space don’t have much room on their walls for many photos. But that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy reminders of their loved ones. A digital picture frame won’t take up coveted wall space. Even better, you can automatically send new pictures to the frame from your smartphone or computer to keep them continuously updated with all the latest family pics.

The Skylight 10-inch digital Wi-Fi picture frame is one of the highest-rated, with well over 3,500 reviews on Amazon. It lets you display a rotating selection of images in a matted frame that looks like the real thing. Even better, there’s virtually no setup. Just plug it in and use the touch screen to connect it to the Wi-Fi. Then start loading it with pictures of the family via email.

32. A Video Calling Device

While you can always pick up the telephone, a device made for video calling makes the interaction more like being there in person, which is especially nice when you have to be apart.

The Facebook Portal Mini lets the recipient video chat with friends and family, even if they don’t have their own Portal. Plus, it comes with additional features useful for the older set. The Smart Sound technology enhances voices while reducing background noise. And if they have young grandchildren or great-grandchildren, they can read a beloved children’s story as one of the characters using animation and augmented-reality effects. It also features Alexa, which means they can use their Portal to see the latest headlines, check the weather, watch TV, or listen to their favorite music.

33. A Tablet or Computer

If they want more functionality than just the ability to video chat, a tablet or computer lets them do more, like read and send emails, listen to audiobooks, watch videos, or listen to podcasts. If the older adult on your list has difficulty learning new technology, go with one specially designed for their age group, like the GrandPad tablet. The secure, easy-to-use tablet lets them video chat, make phone calls, send emails, take pictures, and browse the Web.

Or go with the Claris Companion tablet, which is slightly pricier but even simpler to use. (The average user age is 86.) As with the GrandPad, older adults can enjoy photos, video chat, and surf the Web. Plus, it works right out of the box — no setup required. Alternatively, if you already have a spare Android tablet they can use, you can get the Claris Companion app for all the same features.

But for the most features, go with a computer. Designed to be the easiest and most intuitive, simplified Telikin computers still have all the benefits and features of a full computer. Plus, they have tech support options available if users need help.

34. An E-Reader

If the older adult on your list lives in a nursing home or is otherwise short on space, they likely don’t have room for more books. But that doesn’t mean avid readers wouldn’t love more of them. Fortunately, a Kindle Paperwhite can hold a library of them in one compact device. The new Paperwhite is the thinnest and lightest yet. Plus, it features a screen that reads just like paper, and it’s relatively low-tech compared to a tablet like the Kindle Fire. So those who aren’t tech-savvy can get instant access to millions of books without the frustration of learning a bunch of new technology.

Alternatively, go with the new Kindle Oasis, which features the functionality of the Paperwhite — including a screen that reads like paper. Additionally, it features a warm light to adjust the screen shade from white to amber. That makes it easier to read at night, as the light is less glaring. It also has an ergonomic design, including page-turn buttons, that make it easier for aged or arthritic fingers to manage. And if they’d rather listen than read, it works with Audible.

35. An Audiobook Subscription

For older adults who have difficulty reading, a gift subscription to an audiobook service is the ultimate gift. Get them a year’s worth of Audible, which offers thousands of books, documentaries, and podcasts to listen to. Upgrade to an Audible Premium Plus membership for unlimited access to the thousands of books and podcasts in Amazon’s Audible Plus catalog plus one credit per month for a premium title they can keep forever, even if you (or they) end their subscription.

Or go with a year-long subscription to Scribd, which lets them listen to audiobooks, magazines, and podcasts with no monthly limit.

36. A Music Player

A 2017 study published in Frontiers in Psychology shows that music can stimulate a range of emotions. Most important, pleasant music elicits measurable positive physiological reactions — good feelings. That makes music a vital tool for relieving stress and promoting happiness.

So provide an older relative with easy access to their favorite songs with a preloaded music player like an iPod Touch or an iPod Nano — both of which can hold thousands of songs, are easy to operate, and feature touch-screen navigation.

37. High-End Earphones

If they like to listen to music or audiobooks, get them a pair of noise-canceling headphones. It keeps outside noise from bothering them while they’re listening. If they don’t have hearing aids, get them a set of AirPods Pro. The latest AirPods come with three ear tip sizes to help them find the perfect fit. Plus, they’re water-resistant and sweatproof. And don’t worry if they don’t have Apple devices — they work with any Android operating system as well, including smartphones or e-readers like a Kindle.

For more active older adults who worry earbuds will fall out, go with the Power Beats Pro wireless earphones. These made Oprah’s Favorite Things list for 2019, but they’re much cheaper in 2020. They aren’t noise-canceling, but they feature Beats top-notch sound quality. And the earbuds attach to your ears via adjustable ear hooks, so they stay put comfortably, no matter how much you move around.

If they do wear hearing aids, opt for a pair of Bose’s noise-canceling headphones. These over-ear headphones feature Bose’s top-of-the-line sound quality and unbeatable noise-canceling features. Noise-cancellation is an incredibly crucial feature for those who wear hearing aids.

38. A Towel Warmer

Older adults are more sensitive to cold, which can feel especially potent when they first step out of the bath or shower. That’s why some retirement communities have heat lamps installed in the bathrooms. But whether or not your older relative is that lucky, a towel warmer is an especially nice touch. A warm towel is like a cozy hug every time they wrap themselves in it.

A towel warmer bucket, like the Zadro ultra-large luxury towel warmer is even better than a warming rack because it requires no installation. And the sleek design makes it look more like decor than an appliance. Plus, this one’s large enough to fit two oversize towels or even a robe or blanket. And Good Housekeeping rated it as the best bucket towel warmer.

39. A Fruit-of-the-Month Club Subscription

Skip the flowers and bypass the candy. When I asked my sister, a nursing home administrator, to suggest an appropriate gift, she had one recommendation: fresh fruit. It’s the top request she receives when she asks nursing home residents if there’s anything they’d like.

Providing vitamins, minerals, and fiber, a regular delivery of fresh seasonal fruit is a welcome gift. Harry & David offers numerous fruit club options, from organic fruits to pears or citrus, and even a smaller option, perfect if you’re delivering to a single person.

40. A Long-Distance Touch Lamp

To ease the loneliness older people sometimes feel, set them up with a long-distance touch lamp. You give one to them and keep one for yourself. Then, whenever you’re thinking of them, simply touch your lamp. The paired lamp will light up, no matter how far apart you and your loved one are. It’s a sweet reminder they’re in your thoughts. And if other family members want to get in on the action, you can connect unlimited lamps. They light up in 256 possible colors, so you can assign a color to each family member, and the older adult in your lives can always know who’s thinking of them.

Final Word

For many older adults, moving to a retirement community, assisted living facility, or nursing home can represent a loss of valuable things: their homes, their neighborhoods, and their friends. And even if the older relatives on your list are aging in place or you’re taking care of them, the current coronavirus pandemic, which limits their ability to interact socially, can bring with it a whole new level of loneliness and isolation. Showing you care with a thoughtfully selected gift is extra-important this year, as it reminds them they’re loved and thought of.

For even more ideas, see our Christmas gift list for grandparents.

Sarah Graves
Sarah Graves, Ph.D. is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, education, and creative entrepreneurship. She's also a college instructor of English and humanities. When not busy writing or teaching her students the proper use of a semicolon, you can find her hanging out with her awesome husband and adorable son watching way too many superhero movies.

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