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Gift Ideas For Seniors, The Elderly and Shut-ins

Gift Giving To The Elderly Can Be A Challenge

Gift giving for seniors, the elderly or shut-ins can be a challenge. After all they probably have all the “stuff” they need,they certainly don't need anymore knick knacks, and many have downsized to smaller homes or moved into retirement facilities or nursing homes and simply don’t have the room for any clutter. Yet, you still want to give him or her a gift to make their day special and let them know they are appreciated. Here are some ideas that are sure to make her smile! Some of these ideas will require a bit of your time, but very often that is the best gift you can give, as the elderly people and shut-ins often feel lonely and secluded. Most of these ideas can be adapted for both men and women, but I will use the pronoun "she" to save that awkward "he or she."

Make Her Smile With These Gift Ideas


All About Eve

Watch an old classic together

Watch an old classic together

Have A Movie Night

Have a movie night with her. Rent or download a wonderful old classic movie that would have been popular in her younger days, say the academy award winner from 1944 Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman or 1950 winner All about Eve with Bette Davis. Bring along some popcorn and some soft drinks and watch it with her. You may find yourself enjoying these wonderful old movies yourself. After the movie is over, encourage her to go down memory lane and talk about what her life was like when the movie was a current hit. This can start some wonderful conversations and you just may find out things you never knew about her and she will enjoy your attention and interest. Do you live to far away to actually see it together? No problem. Buy the DVD watch it, send it to her so she can watch it and then have a long chat on the phone.

The Gift Of Music

Along the same lines as the above suggestion, you could burn her a CD of music that was popular in her youth. Listen to it with her, sing along and clap. If she is up to it, get her to teach you some of the dance moves popular in that era. Music is known to be healing and uplifting and you could both have a lot of fun! Again, this could be a great tool to start conversations. Ask her about dances she may have gone to, or concerts. What were her favourite songs, performers and radio of TV shows? Does any song from that era have a particular meaning for her? Let her talk and reminisce. Many older people find people are just to busy to take the time to listen to them. Give her the gift of your genuine attention. Below I have made a couple of great playlists to get your started. All tunes are available on itunes. Again, if you live too far away to listen to them with her in person, make yourself a copy, send her one and have a phone party!

Classic Hits Collection

Play List of Hits from the 1930s




Over The Rainbow

Judy Garland


Pennies From Heaven

Bing Crosbey


Moonlight Serenade

Glenn Miller


Cheek to Cheek

Bing Crosbey


The Way You Look Tonight

Fred Astaire


Begin the Beguine

Artie Shaw


Night and Day

Fred Astaire


Happy Days are Here Again

Harry Richmond


A -Tisket A-Tasket

Ella Fitzgerald


All Of Me

Louis Armstrong


Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Tommy Dorsey


Playlist of Hits From 1940s




In The Mood

Glenn Miller


Riders In The Sky

Vaughn Miller


Buttons And Bow

Dinah Shore


Paper Doll

The Mills Brothers

Don't Fence Me In

Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters

Sentimental Journey

Les Brown and Doris Day

Nature Boy

Nat King Cole

I'm Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover

Art Mooney

Chatanooga Choo Choo

Glenn Miller

Mule Train

Frankie Lane

That Old Black Magic

Glenn Miller

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

The Andrew Sisters

Doris Day

Easy Gift Ideas

Here are some other ideas for gifts an elderly person may enjoy.

Make her some cookies, fudge or cake from a recipe she has passed down. Enclose a note telling her any memories you have of her making these treats for you or others.

Gather photographs from the family, scan them and download them on to a digital picture frame. Some can hold up to a thousand photos and others can hold many more.

Buy her a pretty blank journal and special pen and ask her to write down any memories or stories of her life she would like to share with the family. She may enjoy writing and sharing, and the family will have a wonderful keepsake.

The Year She Was Born

Do some research and find out the highlights of the year she was born, write down what you find in a large card or make her a poster. For example if she was born in 1935 she is in good company because so was Elvis, The Dali Lama and Julie Andrews. AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) was created and The Gallop Poll was introduced. The average house would cost you $3,450.00, a loaf of bread eight cents. and a gallon of gas was ten cents. The depression was still in full swing and twenty percent of the population was unemployed. The “Swing” was born and people were ready to dance.If you can find a baby picture of her, include it in the card or glue it on the poster.

More Quick Ideas

Get her a gift certificate to her favourite restaurant or a new one you would think she would like and take her there. Have some flowers waiting on the table for her. If she can’t get out, take your laptop to her, find a restaurant that has their menu online, let her choose and have it delivered and enjoy a meal together in her residence.

Find a mobile hair stylist or esthetician and let them pamper her. Many elderly people have difficulty caring for their feet, so a pretty pedicure might be appreciated.

If she can’t drive anymore buy her a gift card or pre-pay at a taxi company so she can get around without asking people for rides.

Buy a book and set up a time to read out loud to her each week. If her memory is not what it used to be, recap the book each session. Choose a wonderful classic like “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Gone with the Wind” or one of the wonderful new novels like “The Help”.

Make Her Day!

I hope some of these ideas are helpful. Remember, what she wants, like all people, is some of your time and attention. Many elderly people think they are “bothering” younger people who are busy with work and family. Assure her you enjoy your time together and go ahead and have a nice long visit. You will make her day!

Fun video of an elderly woman dancing!


Sheri Dusseault (author) from Chemainus. BC, Canada on August 30, 2016:

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Andy that is a great idea!!! If it is ok with you I will add the link to my article.

Sheri Dusseault (author) from Chemainus. BC, Canada on July 11, 2015:

How nice he was able to keep active and enjoy life right up until his crossing! Sadly many people are not so lucky. Thanks for commenting!

Glen Rix from UK on July 10, 2015:

I like the well-intentioned comments on the hub and it's great that young people have a caring attitude towards the elderly. However, I think we should be careful not to take a patronising attitude towards elderly people. My father died a month ago, age 91, still young at heart. The day before he died he was in town shopping. He lived alone and was still pottering in his garden and making hanging baskets for the family.I saw him for coffee every morning and he came to me for dinner each evening. 10 days before he died my brother-in-law took him on a mini-cruise. Three days before he died my son took him out for dinner. Sharing time with elderly friends and relatives is the best gift that we can give.

Sheri Dusseault (author) from Chemainus. BC, Canada on January 21, 2014:

Thanks Gran loves it when I bring her music.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on January 21, 2014:

Personally love the gift of music, though I love all the ideas, Sheri! A great share!

Sheri Dusseault (author) from Chemainus. BC, Canada on May 28, 2013:

Thanks Gypsy48

Gypsy48 on May 28, 2013:

Very thoughtful ideas for the elderly, seniors and shut ins. They deserve all the attention we can give them. Voted up.

Sheri Dusseault (author) from Chemainus. BC, Canada on May 20, 2013:

Thanks rdsp0arrowriter. That is video is fun!

Rochelle Ann De Zoysa from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka on May 20, 2013:

Great ideas to put a smile on a loved one :) I really enjoyed the video :) She's such a sweet lady :) Thanks . God bless you!

Sheri Dusseault (author) from Chemainus. BC, Canada on May 17, 2013:

Thanks Lurana. It was a fun one to write.

MrsBrownsParlour on May 17, 2013:

This is such a great topic and with so many excellent ideas! :-) Lurana

Sheri Dusseault (author) from Chemainus. BC, Canada on May 16, 2013:

Thanks PegCole17. That is great that your Mom and her sis are still living at home. And you are right, the gift of time beats out anything.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on May 16, 2013:

These are such welcome ideas to the homebound and shut-in folks. The gift of our time is the most valuable; a listening ear and a comforting visit to those who are stuck at home. Sometimes an offer to grocery shop and pick up fresh fruit, veggies and other things that they need will be of help, too. My Mom and her sister still live at home at 88 and 93 but are homebound. We are lucky they have friends who drop in just to check on them.

Loved your ideas in this hub.

Sheri Dusseault (author) from Chemainus. BC, Canada on May 16, 2013:

Thanks tillsonitian. Soaps are a good idea.

Mary Craig from New York on May 16, 2013:

Great ideas Sheri. You could add lotions and soaps as a gift. Senior skin gets dry and lotions and nice soaps are always a welcome addition.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Sheri Dusseault (author) from Chemainus. BC, Canada on May 15, 2013:

Thank you NateB11. I hope your mom enjoys!

Nathan Bernardo from California, United States of America on May 15, 2013:

These are really great ideas and particularly touching to me because I'm taking care of my aging mother who is 83 years old, and I can see her really enjoying gifts like these. Thank you, much appreciated.

Sheri Dusseault (author) from Chemainus. BC, Canada on May 15, 2013:

Thanks Rose-the planner. That video is so much fun....granny shaking her booty!

Sheri Dusseault (author) from Chemainus. BC, Canada on May 15, 2013:

Thanks kidscrafts. My grandmother loves it when I bring music from her youth to play for her.

Sheri Dusseault (author) from Chemainus. BC, Canada on May 15, 2013:

Yes Kathryn isn't that dancing lady the sweetest thing! Thanks for reading and commentings

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on May 15, 2013:

Loved your article, especially the video of the dancing 88 year old woman. Great hub! Thanks for sharing. (Voted up)

kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on May 15, 2013:

Fantastic hub, Sheri Faye! Great suggestions!

I am singing in a choir and our director makes us sing songs from the 1930s and 1940s. Twice a year, we spend one month singing in nursing homes and those people love sing along with us because they know all those songs and they have fun.

Voted up and awesome!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on May 15, 2013:

Great ideas here. I'll be back to watch the video when I get on my laptop.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on May 15, 2013:

What a fantastic idea for an article! I love your thoughtful ideas. The video of the woman dancing is adorable!

Voted up and sharing.

Gable Rhoads from North Dakota on May 15, 2013:

Great ideas, Sheri Faye ++

Sheri Dusseault (author) from Chemainus. BC, Canada on May 15, 2013:

Billy I guess it is all relative, isn't it. My sister got asked if she qualified for the "seniors" discount the other day and she is only 55! Anyway...sixty is the new fifty..fifty the new forty and so on. (Or are we boomers just kidding ourselves?) Thanks for reading and commenting.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 15, 2013:

Cool ideas, but I want to know who qualifies as a senior....I'm grateful you didn't say it was 64 and over. :)

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