As the holidays approach, we get asked often about good gift ideas for seniors.  What types of things might be useful and appreciated by an older relative?  It is an especially tough question if the person has downsized to an assisted living facility or nursing home or the person has been suffering ill health.

Many of us can admit to having too much stuff and if our older relative has had to downsize or might be facing doing so in the near future (and you know you’ll be facing it too as you’ll be helping), you want to get something that will be useful.  What does your older loved one really need?  What could help?

We will be getting in to more specific home health products and senior gift ideas throughout our series.  But, for today, we wanted to share some broad ideas and how to evaluate if a home health product or other gift might be useful.

First, think about day-to-day life for your loved one.  What little irritations arise?  What big safety concerns do you have?  Are there favorite activites your loved one has given up or difficulties he/she faces every day that are discouraging?

You might get started by doing a simple google search on that issue or concern.  You’d be surprised what will turn up in a review on the web.  You might not even think there would be a product or service to help, but there often is.  You might encounter someone else asking the same question or writing about a solution.  Or, better yet–save some time and reach out to an expert.  Our website offers (and will continue to build upon) solutions and information.  You might also consider consulting with one of our geriatric care managers.  Maybe it is time to have an assessment done to determine what could help improve your loved one’s quality of life , safety and health.

When we talk about home health products, we include the many practical tools available for good health and safety, from pill reminder/organization systems to personal emergency response systems, arthritis-friendly products, bathroom safety/modifications.  But, we also think about less traditional “home health” products, such as items for activities, comfort and communication (such as games and puzzles, photo albums/products, clothing, furniture, hobby supplies, and technology solutions).

The other issue to consider in evlauting home health products or any gift for seniors (or anyone!) is the potential barriers to usage.  Will the learing curve (if there is one) or modifications seem worth it to fix the problem or overcome the irritation?  Are there barriers to using the gift?  Even the simplest of gifts…gift cards…often go unused, so you cannot guarantee what will be used.  However, you can think about this in evaluating the product and also in how it is presented and how you assist in its use.  For example, if the product is something technological you should plan to demonstrate how to use it and provide simple written instructions. 

Use is often a matter of the problem/irritation or desire being greater than the barriers.  For example, years ago we gave my great grandmother a brand new address book which was designed for all the modifications one has to make with people moving–it had a kind of dri-erase style and pages could easily be added and removed.  Her old address book was a mess of things crossed out and little slips of paper stuck inside.  (Nowadays, we’d probably be getting her an iphone or trying to convince her to go electronic.)  What we did not take in to account was 1. the old address book didn’t really bother her and 2. she didn’t want to take the time to rewrite everything.  If she had identified the old address book as a problem, rewriting it probably would not have been such a barrier.  Perhaps the gift should have been accompanied by assistance in redoing it.  Maybe seeing how nice it was when done and having that barrier removed would have made the difference.  Instead, she ended up regifting it.

One of the most precious gifts you can give to a senior in your life is the gift of time.  There are many projects and different needs that you will find can be accomplished, from helping to shop for, wrap and ship gifts to preparing favorite family recipes.  Your loved one may be leary about attending an event or getting out to a holiday luncheon without someone there to assist.  He or she might need a travel companion to visit out-of-town family members or help getting around town when others might be too busy to provide rides.

If you are out-of-town or stretched for time yourself, a home care company like EasyLiving can provide these services.  We can get one of our great home caregivers set up to assist and can even provide senior concierge services to plan travel and special events with assistance.  We even offer gift cards, so your loved one can use the time as he/she pleases. 

**To make this even better for you, we are offering gift cards with a “pay at redemption” feature, which means that we will collect your billing information but not bill you until your loved one books the services.  This way, there’s no risk to you.  And, we can help with your questions about how to best approach giving this gift and how to set up services as well as how much might be needed.

  Or, give us a call at 727-448-0900.

We will be covering numerous home health products and senior care technologies in our blog series on home healthcare products, sharing reviews and guest posts from companies that offer a wide array of senior support products.  Keep an eye out (or subscribe for updates)–for both gift ideas and practical suggestions that might help someone you know.  Contact us if you want to suggest a company or product.