Shopping for an older adult is a bit harder than it is to shop for a child. This is a time in life when people often have most things they need, s more thought must go into each gift to ensure that you are getting something that the recipient will enjoy.
Thankfully, we’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting here for you. We’ve come up with ideas that go beyond just washable slippers (those those are good, too). So, let’s take a look at 27 unique gift ideas for older adults.
Great Gifts for Older Adults Who Have Pain
A Foam Roller
Aging comes with certain aches and pains that we never experienced in our youth. A firm foam roller can help relieve muscle tightness, soreness, and – important for older age and balance – improve the range of motion in joints (source). Just about every person I meet in the gym has terribly tight hamstrings, and a foam roller is a fantastic way to help to improve range of motion and relieve muscle tightness. Typically, the longer the foam roller, the better. I’ve found that my older clients have a much more difficult time using a foam roller if it’s only a foot or two in length, compared to the options on the market that are around three feet in length.
The longer foam rollers seem to just be easier for getting into position than the rest. The only caveat here is that this is a gift for somebody who has enough muscle strength to get on and off the floor. If they can’t, you may want to look at the next option instead.
Tightness and sore muscles seem to be an inherent part of old age. Unfortunately, a lot of that tightness takes place in the back muscles – a location where nobody can reach. One of the best ways that I’ve found to help relieve this back tightness is with a Theracane. For those who have a difficult time getting onto the ground to use a foam roller, this might be the ticket. It’s a means of back massage that can easily be used while standing up or sitting in a chair.
I have used one ever since college (where I learned about it through a strength and conditioning class) and can attest to their effectiveness.
A Neck Massager
More on massages, what about a high-end neck massager? It’s incredibly common for people to carry their stress in their shoulders and upper back. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that a quality neck massager is such a great gift. I bought two of these as gifts for people in the past, and both recipients loved them. It’s a fantastic means of loosening tight muscles and alleviating pain while you’re relaxing in the evening watching television.
An Inversion Table
Back pain is incredibly common with age, affecting as much as 80% of the population. For those who suffer from chronic back pain, they may appreciate getting to use an inversion table. This is basically a table on a swivel that pivots so that whoever is on it can hang upside down. This helps to decompress the discs within the spine, alleviating painful pressure.
This is probably the most-used piece of exercise equipment in the gym where I work. I’m predominantly working with older clients throughout the day, and many of them are severely deconditioned or have some rather severe joint pain. The Nu-Step ends up being one of the perfect modes of cardio exercise for a lot of these clients. With them, I can even get somebody who’s had a stroke leaving half of them paralyzed to workout.
Downside? These don’t come cheap – running at around $3000 or so – but this can truly be one of the best investments that a senior can make for maintaining and improving their health and independence as time marches on.
Personal Trainer Workouts
When it comes to working out, a lot of older people have not spent enough time in the gym to be comfortable navigating their way around intimidating exercise equipment. They know that they need to work out, they just don’t know how. That’s one of the great things about hiring a personal trainer. A quality trainer will be able to take an older client through a workout that will help to burn calories, build strength, and improve joint health.
They’ll know what exercises people with particular issues should avoid, and which ones they should prioritize. On top of that, this is often one of the greatest sources of social interaction that an older person will have throughout the course of a week. I’ve had dozens of clients tell me that if it weren’t for the gym, they’d never get the chance to talk to anyone outside of their house. I recommend personal training packages if it seems as if this would be a gift of interest.
Gifts for Elderly Women
Giving a gift to an older woman is not as complicated as we often make it out to be. Consider the likes and interests of the lady-in-mind, then thoughtful gift ideas will quickly come flowing to mind. But if you’re still stuck, perhaps the following suggestions will help.
Mr. Stacky is great for gardeners. I work with around 100+ patients a day, and it always breaks my heart to see clients who can no longer enjoy the gardening they love due to joint limitations. Maybe instead it’s a downsizing from their happy country home to a small apartment closer to the heart of town. In either case, I believe that this can make a great gift.
You can grow a lot of plants in this thing within a surprisingly small amount of space, and thanks to its height, there’s little to no squatting to tend to the plants. Gardening has never been easier!
A Kitchen Herb Garden
An indoor herb garden for the kitchen another great gift idea for the gardener and cook who wants to enjoy fresh herbs without maintaining a big garden. Nothing in your spice rack can compare to the flavor of fresh-picked herbs. If you’ve ever cooked with herbs from your local farmers’ market, you understand what I’m talking about here.
A kitchen herb garden is a great way to add a flavorful addition to their food, an interesting way to enliven someone’s kitchen, and something you can enjoy watching grow.
The KitchenAid Mixer
All the women in my family think a kitchen is not complete until it has one of the coveted KitchenAid mixers. If the lady whom you’re thinking about buying a gift for enjoys baking, this may be the perfect time-saving gift. You can throw all your ingredients in the bowl, and let it do the mixing so that you can get to peeling potatoes, frying bacon, or whatever else is calling for your attention in the kitchen.
If the person whom you’re thinking about giving a gift has bad arthritis in their hands, and mixing things by hand has become painful and difficult for them, that may be all the more reason to take a closer look at picking them up a KitchenAid mixer.
A Locket with a Family Pic
How about a heart-shaped locket? My Granny loves family pictures. Every time my family gets together at her house I can’t help but chuckle to myself at seeing the newest picture of her grandson (that I just texted to her the night before) already printed off and proudly displayed in a frame in the living room. Photographs are reminders of the people and the memories that we hold dear.
There’s something symbolic behind keeping a picture of one’s family so close to one’s heart at all times. And if that doesn’t convince you, just know that it’s hard to go wrong with giving jewelry as a gift.
Wood Carving of Family Initial
It’s hard to go wrong with a quality wood carving as a gift. We all seem to recognize the inherent difficulty and labor involved in crafting something as exquisite as a proper wood carving piece, and who wouldn’t want their last name prominently displayed in their house?
There are some jaw-dropping artists out there who can create these for you, and the more you look around, the more you’ll find that you like.
Wax Seal for Letters and Stationery
Perfect for crafters, a wax seal can make a fun gift. While something of a forgotten art, letter writing has been making something of a comeback over the past ten years (something I primarily attribute to Etsy). Many older adults, however, never stopped. If you have somebody who enjoys writing letters to their grandchildren, friends, and other family members, you may want to look into getting them a wax seal kit.
I’ve given these as gifts before, and they’re very unique. If you’re contemplating what type of wax to get, I recommend one that already has a wick. It’s a much cleaner and easier process that way. I am also partial to the wine-red wax. It has a very professional and classic vibe to it that I’ve found lacking in many other colors.
Hand-Turned Candle Sticks
Speaking of Etsy, you can find some great hand-turned candle sticks on there. Perhaps the person you’re looking at giving a gift has interior design tendencies, this is it. They enjoy making their house look beautiful and interesting inside with both practical and ornate decorations. If that’s the case, I recommend checking out some of the beautiful hand-turned candle sticks that you can find out there.
Woodturning on the lathe can turn out some absolutely beautiful pieces of art, and these will be a practical gift that the recipient will display proudly in their home. The hand-turned aspect of these pieces make them more personal.
An Indoor Coffee Bush
Who doesn’t love coffee? And who wouldn’t enjoy the chance of getting to grow their own? With this dwarf potted coffee bean plant from Gurney’s you’ll be able to raise your own coffee right from your own living room. Aside from helping to clean the air within a home, potted plants add variety to the décor of any room, and the hope of future coffee beans gives the recipient something to look forward to in the future.
Gifts for Elderly Men
Contrary to what many people attest to, I’ve long considered shopping for men to be easier. All you really have to do is find a unique tool and you’ve likely got a winner. Okay, okay, perhaps there’s a bit more to it than that, but if you’re getting gift block and can’t think of what to buy, take a look at the below. I think you’ll find these gift suggestions helpful.
A higher-end recumbent bicycle? Not small (or cheap), but it could be perfect. Men are men and always will be. As such, the option of going exploring – of discovering – is always going to be of interest. A fantastic way to foster this trait is via a recumbent bicycle. Three-wheel bikes for seniors is a growing trend to satisfy safety with exercise. This is a great way to increase one’s physical activity levels, to get outside in fresh air and sunshine (both of which are beneficial to health), and is a perfect fit for somebody who may not have as good of balance as they used to. Pair them up with a grandchild on a bike and watch the fun.
An all-purpose leatherworking set of tools could be a hit with the guy who wants to work with his hands. It’s after retirement that many men begin picking up new hobbies as they look for ways to fill the time. If that sounds like the man that you’re shopping for, consider gifting them the gear that they would need to get started in leatherworking. Holsters, belts, and rifle slings are just a few of the things that can be made, and they could even learn how to make a purse for their wife (maybe that’s not incentive after all)!
You can expect to spend somewhere in the ballpark of $50 for a beginner’s set of these tools; and as far as leather goes, I’ve bought scrap lots on eBay for family members.
A Meats Basket
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and I think that pastrami and jerky is a shortcut. There are numerous great gift basket companies out there who include a variety of sausages, jerkies, and other assorted tasty and unique meats.
I recommend checking out Harry and David to give you some ideas as far as to what’s out there. If you shop there, or anywhere online for that matter, download the Rakuten extension and get cash back. Harry and David, and many sites, participate with the app.
A Spoon Carving Kit
Older men have long enjoyed whittling and carving, so how about a spoon carving kit? It’s peaceful, involves the hands, and you can do it without really having to think about the process. It’s a way to be productive as you tune out from the world watching the sunset.
If you’re looking for high-quality yet lower-cost gouges and chisels, I recommend checking out Veritas. I’ve long found them to be the best bang for your buck.
A Fly Fishing Rod
If the man you’re shopping for enjoys the great outdoors, then you may not have to look any further than a quality fly fishing rod – or any fishing gear for that matter. But fly fishing specifically is a gateway to getting to enjoy outdoors, find an excuse to hang out with friends and grandkids, and to bring a little bit of food back home too.
If you’re looking for high quality flies and other gear, the best store that I’ve found as of yet is called Tale Tellers Fly Shop. His blog is fantastic, and he has a lot of great advice as far as to what gear you should be buying.
A Subscription to a Favorite Magazine
I’ve always thought that magazine subscriptions were a great gift idea. For the reader in your life, this may be something to consider. It’s fun opening up the mailbox to see that there’s something inside other than bills, and this gives the recipient something to look forward to multiple times a year.
Gifts for Seniors Who Already Have Everything
This is where it gets tricky. What do you do for the person who already has everything, and will even tell you that they do? How do you give a gift to them? I think at this point you have two failsafe fallbacks to rely on: experiences and memories.
An experience is something they don’t already have, and good memories about family and friends are something that we cherish. The below gifts will help us to nail both of those on the head.
Shutterfly Photo Books
I’m a big fan of photo books. You can find some great coupons for these online (that will often halve the cost), and they’re just a lot of fun. They’re a great way to store pictures of loved ones without having to worry about finding a whole bunch of new picture frames, buying a new photo album, or finding the space for storage.
Instead, a Shutterfly photo book can easily rest on a coffee table until it is ready to be perused. It’s hard to go wrong here. Like Harry and David mentioned earlier, use the Rakuten extension for additional savings at Shutterfly.
I’ve often found that an Airbnb venue is a much more enjoyable visit than any hotel on the market. I like the idea of privacy when I go on vacation, and who doesn’t have hotel horror stories involving bad guests traipsing about the hallways at 3AM? With an Airbnb you can avoid all of that, and all while staying at some of the most beautiful locations on the planet.
Want to stay in a yacht? Check. An old fire tower? Check. An ice palace? Yep, they’ve got that too. This is worth some serious consideration.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
Remember these? For the more adventurous gift recipient, this may be something to consider. Even if somebody has already taken a hot air balloon ride in the past, I don’t think people ever tire of the beauty that can be imbibed when one is looking down on the earth from extraordinary heights. It’s the primary reason that we as humans enjoy hiking to the tops of mountains.
A Scavenger Hunt of Memorable Places from Their Past
Now this one would take a bit of work, but it could potentially have a lot of value. If you can find out the place where a couple first met, had their first dance, first said ‘I love you,’ proposed, got married, etc., and then create some type of scavenger hunt with clues along the way to a final prize, that could be a whole lot of fun for all parties involved.
If you’re looking for some means of hiding clues at each location, I recommend checking out Bison tubes. They can hold a good-sized message and are discrete until they need to be found. Just something to think about.
Framed Family Photos
I think these are best when the entire extended family is involved. These moments captured in time help one to ponder the extent of their legacy. To get the chance to look at all of those who are here as a result of hard work and love. Once again, Shutterfly does a great job of printing out larger photographs, so you may want to consider them if this is an option for you.
Blown Up Old Wedding Photos
If you can find an older picture of the wedding day for the gift recipient. If you can get your hands on such, a local framing studio or photographer can easily blow up the picture for you so that the end result is this big, beautiful photograph waiting to be framed.
We’ve done this as a family in the past for loved ones, and I think I enjoyed the gift as much as the recipients did. Every time that I then went to their house it was fun to see this picture and to think about all that had happened since that day.
A Family Beach Vacation
Initially, I thought a cruise would be a good fit for this last gift slot, but I’ve since changed my mind to a family beach vacation. Family and time with them are often one of the main desires for those who already have everything they need, and the rental of a beach house and a week in it during the summer is a great way to bond as a family and make memories that will last a lifetime as well.
It’s because of past trips like these with my family that I have any recollection of my great granny whatsoever. The beach was the only time I ever got the chance to really talk with her. It’s because of this I think you can’t go wrong here. Just don’t forget a beach chair that’s good for the elderly.
Gift Ideas for Older Adults Summary
Gift giving can be a bit of an art, and it can most certainly be difficult as well. However, hopefully the above will help to serve as a source of inspiration for what can be something of a difficult endeavor. While the thought does count, you still want to give something that the recipient will enjoy. I think that by following the above you’ll be well on your way to doing just that.
Are there other great gift ideas that you’ve found that we didn’t cover in the lists above? Let us know in the comments below!