Holiday season is a wonderful time — once we finally decide just what gift we’re going to give our senior loved ones, that is.
Yes, the elders on our gift list are often the hardest to check off.
Choosing the right gift, or at least avoiding the wrong one, can cause us to wrack our brains until our heads ache and wander aimlessly through the mall or web.
It’s not as if they give some idea of what to get; more likely they tell us to save our money instead of buying a gift.
Does grandpa really want one more tie or grandma yet another set of earrings? Will they really enjoy that “(you name it) of the Month Club”? Maybe we would be better off saving that money.
Wouldn’t it be nice to give something from which they’ll really get benefit, something they need — even if they don’t know they need it?
Technology Gifts Can be Useful & Used
Even as seniors’ adoption of smartphones, tablets, e-readers and other technology continues to grow, we still hear a lot of family caregivers and other loved ones saying their older loved ones wouldn’t just wouldn’t use such technology — that they feel it’s the domain of younger generations.
That might be true for some, but how many family members would have said the same thing about some of the millions of seniors who now can’t live without their tech gadgets?
After all, as the late Steve Jobs famously said, “a lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
Let’s be clear, we’re not saying to give senior loved ones technology gifts to give them something different, though. It’s about finding a gift they’ll enjoy and that will provide them benefits.
At Senior Care Corner® we are all about helping family caregivers make the lives of their senior loved ones safer, healthier and happier. Technology gifts can do all of those — and today’s technology offers just a hint of what tech will offer seniors in the years to come.
Choosing Tech Gifts for Senior Loved Ones
So you’ve decided to try and find the right technology gift for elder parents or grandparents. That just narrows down your universe of options because, after all, you can just go to the store and say “I want to buy technology” without being more specific.
We have a few thought starters for you.
Smartphones might be considered a gateway technology for many, including seniors. It’s easy to start with the basic phone functionality — some still use smartphones to make calls, after all — and ease into apps and the whole world they have to offer.
Beyond what can be done on them today, smartphones will serve key functions for seniors in the future, providing benefits in healthcare and safety. There are many tech innovations on the way (some available now) that will use the smartphone as a data communications link with healthcare providers, family members and others.
Having and using a smartphone now will help build readiness for the even greater functionality they’ll offer later.
Which smartphone should you get your senior loved one? After all, there are many options. The right one is really an individual decision, thinking about the right size for the person who’ll use it. The choice of operating system, such as iOS (Apple) or Android, might come down to what you or your loved ones’ friends use and will be able to explain as questions arise.
While they may look just like big smartphones, tablets are much more, of course. Some provide all the computing power most people, not just seniors, will ever need.
Many people talk about getting e-readers for senior loved ones who enjoy a lifelong love of reading. Doing so might be shortsighted in many cases, though, because tablets provide the e-reader functions and so much more, often in packages just as easy to hold, read and carry as limited function readers.
Tablets, with Wi-Fi and even cellular communications capabilities in common with smartphones, are also likely to provide the same health and safety functionality as the smaller devices, giving them a role in aging that is healthy and safe.
“Fitness trackers,” you might be saying, “but our senior loved ones aren’t athletes and don’t really exercise much.” That’s just the point, though.
We know from personal experience that wearing a fitness tracker can make one more aware of how much — or how little — exercise they’re really getting. We talk a lot about the importance of exercise in physical and mental health as we age. Fitness trackers provide meaningful feedback to help senior loved ones become — and stay — more active.
A wearable fitness tracker also provides benefits as a gateway to future technology. Most trackers provide their data feedback through apps in the user’s smartphone or tablet, providing experience with what will be a key communications link in the future.
Fitness trackers also build comfort with wearable technology (again, based on experience), which will grow in prominence in the coming years and promise many benefits for seniors, especially those who choose to age in place on their own.
Other Technology Options
Those are but a few of the available technology options that might be considered as gifts for senior loved ones. You might also think about these.
- Gaming consoles, which can provide a lot of fun for family members of all ages but also encourage physical and mental exercise for seniors.
- Laptop or even desktop computers (yes, they still make those), which may be a better way to access the Web than smartphones or tablets for many seniors.
- Smart televisions, TVs that connect to the Web and provide access to applications such as YouTube and Facebook in addition to multiple entertainment options.
You just don’t know which technology gift will open the eyes of your senior loved one to a whole world of benefit and make them realize they really wanted, maybe even needed, what the tech world has to offer them.
Is There Technology That Shouldn’t be a Gift?
There are an abundance of technology options that would be fine gifts for senior loved ones but are there options that maybe wouldn’t be the greatest gifts?
The quick answer is no, but . . .
There are many wonderful tech devices that provide benefits for older adults (and others) but just provide benefits and might not provide entertainment or fun. Think of the way many kids feel to find socks under the tree.
What tech devices might fall into this category?
- Blood pressure monitors
- Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS)
- Prescription medication organizers
- Home monitoring systems
You get the idea. Some great technology, needed by many but not what most would consider “fun.”
Then again, a lot of kids liked getting socks and similar gifts. Many seniors will likewise appreciate and even enjoy gifts they really need but are “just” functional.
Make “How To” Part of Your Tech Gift
When giving senior loved ones a technology gift, especially something they don’t yet realize they need and will love, the gift can’t end with the wrapped package. We have to be ready, willing and able to help them understand how to make use of it.
Whether the gift is a smartphone, tablet, fitness tracker, blood pressure monitor or medication organizer, the intent is for our senior loved ones to make use of the gift and not just put it in a drawer or closet.
If the senior isn’t familiar with the device or just isn’t tech savvy — which is understandable, since many seniors grew up in a world without personal technology — taking the time to help them set up and learn to use their gift can help ensure the gift is used after you leave.
After all, isn’t getting our senior loved ones something they will enjoy using and which will make their lives better the reason for turning to the technology gift?
Happy shopping and giving!