Gifts for the Elderly

Gifts for the Elderly

Discover Great Ideas for Gifts Older Adults Will Love

Word games like Scrabble or Boggle are fun for all generations — and they’re great exercise for the brain. As in Boggle, players ofBananagrams make words, and as in Scrabble, they create crosswords. And they need to work as fast as they can, until someone yells, “Bananas!” No pencil, no paper, no bulky board required. Each Bananagrams game includes 144 letter tiles zipped into a bright yellow, banana-shaped bag that’s easy to store and pull out when guests visit or the family gathers — or to use at the kitchen table for a solo game with a cup of coffee on a rainy afternoon.

The LifeBio Memory Journal is especially suited to an older person who enjoys writing. This lovely gift is a book of creative, memory-jogging questions about life, with sufficient space after each question to capture handwritten answers. It creates a wonderful opportunity for a grandparent to pass on stories and wisdom to the next few generations.

The journal asks more than 250 questions, such as, “How would you describe your mother to someone who has never met her?” Or “What skills did you inherit from your parents?” Other questions ask the writers to recall their favorite birthday party as a child, the neighborhood they grew up in, or a favorite subject when they were in high school. The resulting answers can be transferred to an online LifeBio journal and merged with scanned pictures to become a hardbound LifeBio book that can be copied multiple times and given to family members.

The Art of Aging is a profusely illustrated book that provides a wealth of inspiration for older adults. Created by painter Alice Matzkin and her husband, sculptor Richard Matzkin, this touching book explores the experience of aging through art. In a series of projects that confront the artists’ fears and curiosity about growing old, they examine physical changes, sensuality, relationships, spirituality, and their own aging parents — and they do so with dignity and candor. Their uplifting conclusion: The elder years can be a time of ripening and harvest rather than inactivity and despair.

An adorable, soft, robotic toy pet may be just the right gift for an older adult or a loved one suffering from dementia, especially if they can no longer take care of a pet or are living in an apartment or an assisted-living facility that doesn’t allow animals. The WowWee Alive Sleeping Cuties are perfect to hold or cuddle up with for a nap. Each one has a movable head and “knows” when you pick it up. Pet one and it wakes up or makes soft, sleepy pet sounds; play with one, and it makes happy sounds.

For someone whose hearing isn’t what it used to be, the TV Ears portable listening system can make an audible difference. This wireless headset system enhances the sounds and voices from TV (it works with the latest plasma and LCD flat screens), and it’s flexible enough to be used as a wired headset for an iPod, computer, or other music and electronic device.

The TV Ears Professional model clarifies television dialog; it also has an automatic Commercial Control that caps loud commercials so the listener doesn’t get an unexpected blast of volume. In addition, it amplifies cell phones, home phones, and even voices during one-on-one conversations.

The Healing Power of Pets for Elderly People

For elderly pet owners, who often live alone or in group facilities, pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity and help them learn.

“A new pet can stimulate someone to read up on an animal or breed, which can be very mentally stimulating and important at that age,” says Dr. Katharine Hillestad, a veterinarian with the office of Doctors Foster and Smith in Rhinelander, Wis., which provides online advice and retails pet supplies and pharmaceuticals.

Pets provide other intangibles. “Dogs—and other pets—live very much in the here and now. They don’t worry about tomorrow. And tomorrow can be very scary for an older person. By having an animal with that sense of now, it tends to rub off on people,” says Dr. Jay P. Granat, a New Jersey psychotherapist.

And pets can reduce depression and lessen loneliness. “Older pet owners have often told us how incredibly barren and lonely their lives were without their pet’s companionship, even when there were some downsides to owning an active pet,” says Linda Anderson, who with husband Allen founded the Angel Animals Network in Minneapolis. The couple speaks about the joys of pet ownership and has authored books.