Gift ideas for elderly parents and relatives

What do you buy your elderly parent or grandparent for birthdays and special occasions? Buying presents for people is never easy, but finding gifts for elder relatives can be especially challenging.

The generation gap, differing interests, and unique needs of our older family members requires a thoughtful approach to gift-giving. They may have most things they need, have downsized or moved into a retirement or care home – in which case they may not have room for much ‘stuff’ or may not be permitted certain items, like candles. They may also have physical health issues or be living with dementia, which adds another layer of consideration.

Here are our suggestions for some gift ideas for elderly parents or relatives that they might appreciate.

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Gift ideas to make their daily lives easier

Managing daily life can get more challenging as you get older, particularly if you suffer from mobility issues or your memory is failing. But there are lots of products that can help older people cope better at home, and ease some of their frustrations.

If they often can’t find or hear their phone, or forget to take it with them when they go out, then you could get them a phone necklace like these colourful ones from XOUXOU so they can wear the phone round their neck.

If they have a tendency to misplace or struggle to find their keys, Air Tags can be a great solution (provided you or they have an iPhone).  Just pop a tag on their key ring, and connect to their or your phone and anytime the keys go missing, you can simply locate them with the ‘Find My’ app on the phone.

Vacuuming with a heavy, traditional hoover can be tricky and potentially a trip hazard. If they don’t already have one, a cordless, lightweight, handheld vacuum cleaner like these ones from Dyson makes a good practical gift.

If they struggle and get frustrated with video calling on their phones, an Amazon Echo Show or other similar video calling devices can be a good gift for helping them stay in touch without having to fiddle about so much.

If they already use a walking stick, or need encouragement to use it more often, you could opt for one of these bright and destigmatising acrylic ones from Neo-walk, which come in a huge range of fabulous colours and styles.  A useful accessory to go with it is a Leanbuddy, which clips onto the stick and allows you to lean it against walls and tables so it doesn’t fall over. a

Gift ideas that capture important memories or legacy

Gifts that capture important memories or legacy can foster a sense of connection, and provide our elder relatives with a tangible reminder of the richness and depth of their life experiences.

Framed pictures of current or past loved ones, or of moments from important times in their life, tend to go down well.

If they have any nice old photos from their younger days tucked away in a drawer somewhere, there are specialists that can create an enlarged and restored image from the photo (if they no longer have the original negative).  You can either get it professionally framed to put on the wall, or get a nice picture frame to sit on a sideboard or mantlepiece. We like these handmade Italian marquetry frames from Anboise.  Addison Ross also has a wide range of different frames to choose from, including these elegant wood veneer ones.

Alternatively, a personalised calendar with photos of the family can easily be made online, as can all sorts of products for the home including coasters, pillows and more. Lots of photo printing companies now do this, such as PhotoBox, BonusPrint and SnapFish.

Another idea is to discover the family ancestry together by buying them an Ancestry DNA kit. Or, if you really want to splash out and have the time, you can commission a specialist to research the family tree and then have it turned into an artwork by an artist or calligrapher, like these from Dearest Forever on Etsy.

Gift ideas to keep them warm and cosy

Older people tend to really feel the cold, so anything that helps them stay warm in winter will not only be appreciated but will contribute to their comfort and wellbeing.

Quality thermal underwear is a good practical gift that can help to keep an elder person warm and toasty. We like the HEATTECH Ultra Warm range from Uniqlo. For excursions on a cold day, a heated gilet like this one from Heatex Apparel could also come in handy.

Traditional hot water bottles that you fill with hot water can be a safety risk, but there are other options available that don’t involve boiling water, such as the Stoove Homey Electric Hot Water Bottle that comes in lots of lovely fabrics and colours.  

Warm socks are always a nice, simple gift. These very warm and cheerful Merino-blend ones from Nordic Socks come in packs of 5.  

We love the concept of these Japanese Core Warmers from Nuku Nuku. Known in Japan as Haramaki (meaning ‘bellyband’), these are thick cloth undergarments that are worn around the belly to increase body heat retention during the winter.

Handsome blankets and throws are also usually appreciated. Country Mouse has some nice wool blankets in lots of pretty patterns and colours. Or you could opt for a luxurious heated throw like this faux fur one from Marks and Spencer.

Gift ideas to eat or drink

Depending on their dietary restrictions and ability to eat certain foods, food and drink gifts can be a good option.

You can’t go wrong with a lovely hamper from Fortnum and Mason, and we also like these ones full of smoked goodies from the Black Mountain Smokery.

High-quality luxury chocolates are also a welcome gift if they have a sweet tooth.  Pierre Marcolini and Rococo do lovely chocolate boxes at various price points. For tea-lovers, try the Fortnum and Mason famous tea-bag selection.

Gift ideas to promote good health and wellbeing

As well as gifts to keep them warm, consider other gifts that promote their health and wellbeing.

Footcare is very important as you get older, so you could treat them to a luxurious Medical Pedicure at a Margaret Dabbs Footspa.

If they struggle with sleep or stress, a lavender-filled weighted eye pillow like this one from Pajama Pantry might help. Weighted eye-pillows work by applying light pressure on the eyeballs which can be very calming and soothing.

You could also look at getting them some wool bedding from The Wool Room. Organic wool bedding is anti-allergenic, naturally regulates body temperature and controls moisture, which can improve sleep.

If your elder parent or relative is in a care home, scented candles are usually a no-no but you can instead opt for a soothing reed diffuser. John Lewis has a wide selection, including an essential oil range of diffusers from Neom Organics London.

Plants can improve air quality and mood, and brighten up a living space. Consider easy-to-care-for varieties like aloe vera, snake plants, or peace lilies. Marks and Spencer has an indoor plant range you can order online and have sent to them directly.

In summary

Whether it’s a practical item to make life more manageable, a cherished memory captured in a frame, or something to promote their health and wellbeing, hopefully these ideas will make your gift searching a little easier and help you find something your elder parent or grandparent can appreciate and enjoy.

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