SALT LAKE CITY — If you're like me, you can never seem to find useful holiday gifts for your older friends and family members.
Over their many years, they've probably accumulated everything that they'll ever need. Whether you're looking for a gift for an aged parent, elderly aunt or uncle, or senior friend down the street, it can be difficult to find anything they will like and use. This is especially challenging if they aren't open to new ideas.
Here are five great ideas for holiday gifts that any senior will love.
Restaurant gift cards
Your loved one will surely be pleased to get a free meal from their favorite restaurant. Sometimes senior citizens tend to lose their appetites as they, as documented in a June 2015 scholarly review published in the journal Nursing Older People. This can result in malnutrition or weight loss that can be detrimental to their health, the article says.
A visit to their favorite restaurant might help to perk up their appetite.
You can easily find gift cards from many popular restaurant chains like Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, eateries like Panera Bread, or even fast-food restaurants like Burger King.
Restaurant cards can be found and purchased online, in Walmart or Target, or in your local grocery or drug store. Like any gift card, you can buy them in denominations, some from as low as $5 to as high as $500.
Make this gift even more special by taking your older friend or family member to the restaurant and enjoying a meal with them. The time you take to be with them will make your gift even more special and memorable.
Monthly delivery of a favorite consumable item
This is always a big hit for those who already have everything they need. Maybe your elderly aunt loves tea or coffee? Consider a gift of flavored teas and coffees sent to her house each month.
Not every senior is a teetotaler. If your mother or father loves a glass of wine with dinner each night, there are any number of places you can visit online that will deliver a few bottles (or even better, a case) of their favorite red or white wine.
The older person on your gift list doesn't drink coffee or wine? Don't worry, there are monthly subscriptions these days for just about everything, from chocolates to flowers, even puzzles. You can even customize your box to be an assortment of random junk.. (just what seniors love, right?)
These gifts are practical, provide delicious treat to look forward to each month, and will remind them how much you care each time it's delivered.
Useful tech items for around the house
Older adults don't necessarily need to be techies to use some helpful technology products around the house.
If you are willing to pay a few hundred dollars, a great give you might consider is a robot vacuum. With pains from arthritis or other ailments, seniors sometimes have trouble pushing a vacuum around. With the push of a button, a robotic vacuum will thoroughly clean any type of floor, from wood and tile to even thick carpets.
The robot will remember the layout of rooms and even clean under areas like beds and couches that are hard to reach. Your friend or loved one will need to clean out the dust bin after use and follow a few maintenance instructions to keep the unit in top condition. So, consider this before making your purchase.
The good news here is that the National Institute on Aging says there are studies show the brain maintains the ability to change and adapt so that seniors can manage new challenges and tasks like this as they age.
Another useful tech item is an electronic assistant like an Amazon Echo or Google Nest. These devices provide a hands-free functionality where a person can speak and ask to control smart devices to play music, answer questions, listen to the news and set reminders. This is an excellent gift for anyone, but especially for older adults who no longer have the mobility they need to perform different tasks.
Note: If your elderly friend or family member has a hard time hearing Alexa, you can always consider purchasing a hearing device for them online.
A good night's sleep is vital for everyone, but especially for seniors. Older adults often suffer from insomnia and anxiety at night, which causes them to awaken and not go back to sleep. Weighted blankets can help them remain relaxed so they can do so.
Weighted blankets are filled with microbeads that promote a calming sensation and more restful sleep. They weigh from 5 to 30 pounds. The blanket should weigh about 10% of a person's body weight. This way, you can determine the weight you believe is best for your friend or loved one.
These blankets are proven to be therapeutic. The National Institute on Aging has done research on weighted blankets for seniors and found the blankets decrease agitation in those with dementia.
Digital Photo Frames
Reliving memories becomes more important as we age, and what better way to do so than to review precious photos taken over the years?
Rather than lifting and storing heavy photo albums, why not load your older friend or family member's photos onto a digital frame that they can easily watch whenever they want.
Some come with capabilities allowing you to upload new photos from wherever you are. You can virtually send pictures to the digital frame from your Android phone or iPhone. This provides a way for your loved ones to stay connected to you and your family members.
Even better, schedule a time each week to load a few new photos and call your older friend or family member to talk about what you sent. Remember, that the time you spend with your elderly relatives and friends is more precious than any gift you can purchase.