Nov 28, 2022

Holiday Gift Guide: 5 Ideas for Aging Loved Ones

Giving a gift to a senior.

'Tis the season to deck the halls, gather around the tree and enjoy quality time together.

By giving a unique gift, creating a new memory or by offering family and friends creative ways to connect, you can ensure a special, festive holiday for aging loved ones.

Keep in mind that the holiday season can be a time of heightened feelings of loneliness and depression for older adults, making connections all the more important.

In one pre-pandemic AARP study, 31% of respondents said they felt lonely during the holiday season sometime during the past five years, and 41% worried about a family member or friend feeling lonesome.

Amid the pandemic, in a 2020 report by the National Poll on Healthy Aging University of California, San Francisco, more than half of older adults (56%) reported feeling isolated from others, more than doubling (27%) in just two years.

Due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and influenza, some older adults still may not feel comfortable at large gatherings. It’s important to know their comfort level and find ways to connect that will keep them safe, but still part of the festivities.

“With a little creativity and intentionality, you can still find ways to safely include aging friends and family in festivities — or even start a new tradition — and remind them you care,” says Dr. Lakelyn Hogan Eichenberger, gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead.


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5 Holiday Gift Ideas for Older Adults

  1. Gifts to look forward to. There are a variety of virtual gift options that older adults will love, whether they are gifted in-person or from afar. These gifts give older adults something to look forward to doing in their downtime after the holidays. For example, if your loved one is a beer or wine enthusiast, book a private virtual tasting through online vineyards. If they’re in need of a good laugh, book tickets to an online comedy show. If they’re looking for fun ways to stay active at home, consider signing them up for a virtual fitness program designed for older adults.

  2. Nostalgic or sentimental gifts. Custom mementos — such as scrapbooks, photo phone cases or a digitized home movie — can prompt seniors to reminisce and share stories of years gone by. Or, express your love through words by inviting friends or family to fill an album or shadow box with short notes or letters. Share an uplifting message or recount an experience from his or her life.

  3. Practical gifts. A gift doesn’t need to be large and expensive to be meaningful — a blanket, warm socks or gift cards are among the most popular items on seniors’ wish lists. A voucher to a favorite restaurant or meal delivery service can be the perfect gift for those who might want a night off from cooking.

  4. Gifts to keep entertained and busy. Books, jigsaw and crossword puzzles can serve as a great source of entertainment, keep the mind active and prevent boredom, especially if a senior is stuck at home during the winter. Consider purchasing a monthly subscription box to deliver a surprise to their doorstep every month. There are countless options and themes available, from cooking to books to candles to gardening.

  5. The gift of a new holiday tradition. If an older adult can’t celebrate in person, adapt your favorite holiday traditions to keep them connected. Send a few special ornaments or a sachet of fragrant-dried balsam pine needles so they can enjoy the Christmas tree smell. Or, decorate their doorstep or room with holiday wreaths, garlands, strings of lights and battery-powered candles.

As you wrap up holiday shopping, it’s important to acknowledge that celebrations may need to change from year-to-year, oftentimes to accommodate the changing medical or mobility needs of aging loved ones. Let go of past expectations and comparisons and remind yourself of the true reasons you celebrate. Then you can navigate this season with hope, peace and joy.

Check out these additional free resources to keep your aging loved one healthy and safe.


Compassionate Home Care

Whether you need companionship or help getting around town, Home Instead delivers the compassionate in-home care services your family deserves.
Caregiver helping senior into car