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Practical and Cheap: Gifts for Seniors and the Disabled

Updated on August 26, 2010

I've done several hubs on gifts for people with disabilities.  This tends to include the older members of our society who can acquire their disabilities slowly and over time.  There are a few items that don't cost much but can be tremendously helpful.  It's amazing how the simplest things can make such a difference.

Plasti Dip

This is a liquid plastic that hardens when exposed to air. One of its primary uses is to give tools like screwdrivers and hammers a nonslip grip. You dip the tool handle into the liquid and then let it dry. For a lot of folks who have weakness in the hands this product makes tools usable again.

I use it for something completely different. In order to turn pages and type, I have to use a hand splint with a pointer stick. (See picture) By dipping the stick in the Plasti Dip several times, I can get a tip of nonskid soft vinyl-like plastic.

Now I can push buttons on remote controls or the keyboard with less difficulty. The stick doesn't slip when I put pressure on it.

Nonskid Mat

These mats are used to line the shelves and drawers.  I use them to keep remote controls, keyboards, trackballs, and dinnerware from slipping.  Most tables or other surfaces are very slick.  Remote controls and speakerphones rock or move when I try to use them.  Bowls full of soup literally can skitter across a table.  A small section of this matting will stop that.  It's easy to cut to size and move after use.

Get My Book on Adult Diapers

The Complete Guide to Adult Diapers
The Complete Guide to Adult Diapers

This easy-to-understand guide covers the different types of diapers available and explains how they are used.

The electronic book can be read on any computer or electronic device with a free app available from


Cordless Doorbell

Cordless doorbells make the very best low-cost and portable signal bells I've ever found.  The chimes are battery-powered and usually come with two activation buttons.  Set the chimes in a central location in house and give one of the activation buttons to the senior or person with disability.  One tap on the easy to push button and everyone in the house can hear the call bell.

I know of one blind gentleman who keeps a cordless doorbell in his luggage.  At the baggage claim, he just triggers the activation button and knows his luggage is the one that dinging.

Using cordless doorbells as call bells also has the advantage of being completely portable.  Take them with you when you travel and then no one need worry if grandma needs assistance at night when staying at the relatives.

I also recommend using them as a backup emergency bell.  Take the chimes next-door to the neighbors and the person who might need assistance can ring if they need help.  Always check the usable range of doorbell before setting this sort of system up.

Wooden Rosette

The doorbell controller and the electronic controls for my hospital bed slip around too much for me.  I mount both of them on wooden rosettes with Velcro. (see pictures) Wooden Rosettes have sanded bottoms that don't leave splinters or catch on bed clothes.  The weight of the rosette helps anchor the controls and keeps them from slipping sideways or upside down.

I also add a glass ball to the doorbell controller to make it easier for me to hit.

Large Display Digital Clock

As we age, and our eyesight can weaken as well.  This clock has one of the largest digital displays I've ever seen.  The numbers are displayed in bright red that doesn't interfere with your night vision.  It also doesn't keep me up at night like a backlit clock would.  I am very nearsighted but I can see this clock reasonably clearly with no glasses at about 10 feet distance.

Long Straws

I absolutely hate someone holding a glass or cup for me while I drink. I want to be able to sip my tea or soda at my own speed. I don't want to feel that someone is waiting for me to finish drinking so they can go do something else. Long straws are the perfect answer. I've never been able to find disposable ones at any of the local home healthcare stores.

Wide Bottom Coffee Mugs

Along with the long straws, I use a wide bottomed coffee mug for my drinks.  They are heavy enough to not tip and the straw will generally stay anchored in the deep mug.  I keep one for coffee and one for tea.  I've found they keep the drink hot or cold for almost an hour.  They also don't slip around on my wheelchair desk.  This stability is excellent when I am moving the wheelchair.

Keep in mind, as I've written before, that everyone is different.  What is great for one is useless for another.  I hope these tips about practical products will be useful.


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    • Rpenafiel profile image

      Rpenafiel 6 years ago from United States

      Great hub! All of these are ideal gifts for seniors. And I would agree to Angel, a cell phone that offers ease of use and practical features for seniors is something that can be considered as well by people who would like to make their elderly smile with their gift.

    • profile image

      Angel 7 years ago

      Add the Just5 cell phone in the list. My elderly mom has one and she is helped by this phone a dozen times already. The phone has efficient emergency response features such as one-touch SOS button, automatic alarm, and automatic loudspeaker. It is also designed specifically for seniors and disabled because it has large keys and bright display. Check this phone here:

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 8 years ago from Delaware

      Great ideas, especially loved the clock! Thanks for the info!