Choosing the right gift for a senior, caregiver or someone who is struggling with an illness can be a real challenge for the gift giver.  Are you having a hard time thinking of what to get an older loved one or not sure what would be appropriate for your friend who is struggling with cancer or stressed out caring for a relative?

Having worked with both seniors and caregivers over many years we hope we can share some helpful advice on gifts for seniors as well as things that might be useful or nice for a caregiver.  Here are some tips:

  1. Think about new takes on the person’s interests and hobbies.  If life has changed due to illness or caregiving, he or she may not have the same time or ability to participate in these things, but there are often modified ways you can give to fit the “new reality”.  For example, give a book related to a favorite subject or activity (such as a biography of a sports star or a photo essay about a favorite place or activity).  There are many creative ways to give modified versions of things that matter to the person.
  2. Think comfort.  Examples include: a beautiful/cozy blanket, a nice robe or shawl, slippers, comfort foods or homemade treats, relaxation gifts.  Maybe something festive would help add to the person’s comfort, whether spending a lot of time at home or stuck in a hospital (or living in a nursing home or assisted living)–you could decorate a bit or provide a nice holiday flower arrangement (or things like decorative window clings for the person in a healthcare facility).
  3. The gifts of time and caring are always appreciated.  This could vary from planning an outing (or some time in) together to offering to help with shopping or other tasks (caregivers usually appreciate concrete offers rather than “what can I do to help?”).  Imagine how much a home-cooked meal or special holiday treat could be when you bring it over and spend some time together, lending a listening ear.
  4. Gift certificates are popular for a reason.  Not everyone likes giving them, but they can be very practical.  They can be more meaningful if they demonstrate some extra thought.  Examples include: providing a massage gift card along with arranging for someone to care for the children or elder while the person enjoys the massage, giving a gift card as a “package” (i.e. a bookstore gift card with an inspirational book, a “relaxation package” that includes a spa or bookstore gift card, etc.) or just showing you know the person with a gift card to their favorite restaurant or local shop.

We hope these tips sparked some ideas if you are stuck in coming up with the perfect gift.  Our biggest piece of advice would be to take the pressure off yourself to come up with the perfect gift.  It might be cliche, but it really is the thought that counts.  Seniors and caregivers may be particularly isolated or sad during holiday times, so take the time to reach out.  Send a handwritten note along with a card, make an extra phone call or plan a visit.

A few additional resources we suggest:

Our Gift Ideas for Elderly Family Members

Gifts for Caregivers and People Facing Serious Illness from Aging Wisely’s blog

Buck and Buck: Adaptive Clothing and Nursing Home Friendly Items

EasyLiving offers an ideal gift for seniors and caregivers in the Pinellas County area with our home care gift cards.  The cards can be purchased in any denomination and redeemed for a range of home help, from transportation and errands to light housekeeping and organizational assistance.  We do not charge you until the gift certificate is redeemed, making this both a practical and no-risk gift.