Healthy Aging Column – Christmas for Seniors

If you have parents, grandparents, other older relatives or friends for whom you want to purchase Christmas gifts, but you don’t know what to buy, you are certainly not alone. The older generation is difficult to give to because they often have most of what they need and sometimes they just don’t want any more. The best gift idea may be to give seniors things they will use and use up.

If they like to send and receive cards and letters, a gift box of various cards and stationary would be appreciated. This could include stamps, address labels for relatives and friends and labels with the sender’s return address.

A similar item might be a phone card with lots of minutes and a book with a listing of all the phone numbers of family and friends. Some discount stores sell phone cards with 500 minutes of time for around $20.

If you have a senior citizen’s bus service in your area, tickets for bus rides are a great gift for those who don’t drive or who don’t drive outside their neighborhood.

Of course, any kind of coupon book of time and/or jobs is a great gift. Think about cutting the grass, shoveling snow, making meals, helping to write letters, shopping, cleaning the house or the garage, planting flowers, painting and trimming shrubs.

For those with health problems such as diabetes or arthritis, a gift basket containing things related to their condition would be helpful. For example, you might give a person with diabetes a basket with a cookbook by the American Diabetes Association and include the ingredients for a recipe in the book. Or you can make a recipe and include it in the basket. You might also include a membership at a health club or foot care information and supplies. For someone with arthritis, gifts could include items that could help ease the pain such as a hot wax dip for hands, an exercise video made especially for people with arthritis or kitchen utensils with large grip handles.

For individuals living in assisted-care facilities or nursing homes, gifts could include decks of cards or easy games and a stash of healthy, safe snacks to enjoy while playing the games.

You could "adopt" the person through the year, giving special recognition on holidays and birthdays. These individuals can always use personal care items and practical clothing items. If they like music or books, consider audio-books or cassettes they can enjoy.

Although many older adults seem to have everything, there still are many great gifts you can provide for them during the holidays. Use your knowledge about the person and a little creativity to find gifts that will be helpful to them.

For more information about this topic, contact the Cooperative Extension office in your county. Additional articles on Healthy Aging are available from Colorado State University by going to and clicking on Info Online, Consumer, then scrolling to Healthy Aging.