Gift ideas for senior citizens

Are you struggling to think of a good Christmas gift for your grandmother or maybe even your mom who is in the nursing home? Here is a list of 16 holiday gift ideas for senior citizens.

Think comfort, practicality, and need/want

This list is from my perspective as a former caregiver for my mom who had dementia. She would have been happy with any of these ideas.

Related link:  The First Indicators to Worry Me about Mom’s Memory

Keep in mind that some senior citizens have spent time downsizing and don’t need or want all those little tchotchkes piling up again, like coffee mugs and picture frames. Or, they are in assisted living facilities and may not have a lot of room.

Think comfort and practicality when you pick out something for your Nana and Poppa.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Senior Citizens

1)  Salon/Barber Shop gift certificate. Contact the shop/salon to see if they have anything printed out you can actually wrap up. If your loved one is in a nursing home or assisted living facility, add money to their house account or set up an account so the facility can withdraw the funds for the cuts or styles. The weekly comb-out still goes on! Seniors love having their hair done.

2)  Take them somewhere. Find events/activities/programs in your community that your senior citizen might enjoy. If you have a senior that has Alzheimer’s or dementia keep in mind that they might be sensitive to loud noises and many people so you might want to keep it short and be ready to leave when they get agitated.

3)  Digital photo frames. Who doesn’t like seeing new pictures of children and grandchildren popping up on a photo frame? They are curiously relaxing to sit and watch!

4)  Help pay bills. Some seniors are on fixed incomes and just get by month to month. Help with paying a bill or an unexpected expense would be welcome. Pride might make the senior resistant to this so be prepared.

5)  A box of greeting cards and stamps. This is the generation that wrote letters. If your senior citizen doesn’t get out much to the store, they may not have cards readily available to mail out. A box that has a variety of cards for all occasions might be welcome.

Gift ideas for senior citizens including playing cards and baking cookies

6)  Puzzle books/ large print playing cards/ large piece jigsaw puzzles. Activities that your loved one can do while on their own. You can find large piece puzzles available here. A word search or sudoku book is nice to have on hand. If you get 2 decks of playing cards when you visit you can play double solitaire!

7)  Restaurant gift cards or pick them up once a month or every 2 weeks and take them out to lunch or dinner. Mark it on a calendar for them so they have something to look forward to and can brag about it to all their friends.

8)  Manicure sets/ nail polish. Ladies still like to look good! Maybe tweezers and nail clippers for the men.

9)  Magazine subscriptions. My mom enjoyed looking at the Saturday Evening Post magazine. I think that was because she could remember that from when she was younger. Magazines were things she could look through over and over again because she didn’t remember already reading them the first time.

10)  Hand lotion. Seniors usually keep their rooms or residences warm in the winter which dries out the skin. Be careful with this gift idea though. If your loved one has dementia, lotion is not a good item to have around. It is something they could attempt to eat.

11)  Night lights. Go for the ones, like those below, that come on when it gets darker, or are motion activated and put in bedrooms, hallways, stairways, bathrooms, and even the kitchen. I like the ones on the left because you can turn them and direct the light to where it’s needed.

12)  A very simple cell phone with contact numbers already saved. The rule here is K.I.S.S. Get a phone that’s basic and simple to use!

13)  Comfy clothes/Utensils*. Arthritic fingers make it difficult to tie shoelaces and fumble with fasteners. * If arthritis makes eating difficult, there are utensils you can purchase, like those below, to make it easier.

14)  Swimming supplies. If your senior citizen goes to a swim exercise class maybe it’s time to replace equipment like the swim cap, pool toys, a towel, or a nice tote bag.

15) Music. This may depend upon whether or not your grandparent is capable of operating a stereo, a CD player, or an MP3 player.


The best holiday gift idea of all ….

16)  Is your TIME! In spite of the efforts of nursing homes, long term memory care units, and assisted living facilities to provide residents with daily activities, outings, and fun things to do, there are some seniors who are lonely. Give them the gift of your time. Remember the adage – Time is precious!

If they still live at home, bake some Christmas cookies with them, and have fun decorating them. Is there a special recipe Grandma or Grandpa is known for? Ask them to teach you how to make the recipe.

Hopefully, this list will have supplied you with a few ideas or maybe even generated an idea of your own. If you have an idea to add to the list jot it down in the comments below.