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Stay Warm: Gifts for Seniors and the Disabled

Updated on November 4, 2011

We Are All Different

Finding just the right gift for a person with disability (and that includes many people over 65) can be really difficult. I can't speak for everyone in these two groups but the last thing I want is something else to dust. I am at the point where if I can't use it in a practical way, eat it or spend it then keep it. I know that sounds very cold but, frankly, my friends and relatives appeared relieved when I said this to them (in a much nicer way) .

Now, I realize that there are lots and lots of people who want to actually receive a physical gift, something to unwrap that isn't a gift card, something that shows that the giver put a little thought into the choice. At the same time many gift givers realize that a useful gift won't just sit around to be re-gifted later.

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Will Work for Most

Where should you start? It doesn't help that every disability is very different. Even those with the same diagnosis or condition can have vastly different needs or limitations.

To that end, let me offer some ideas that I've found very useful across a broad spectrum of abilities and tastes.

Fleece Socks

Let's start at the lower end of the price scale. Almost nothing beats a really good pair of fleece socks. I have known very few people, able-bodied or not, who keep warm feet year-round. Be it bad circulation or a cold climate, a good thermal sock is wonderful.

Some considerations

  • fleece socks are made of polyester which very few people are allergic to
  • they tend to wick moisture away from the foot
  • they are available with nonskid soles
  • unsteady walkers should not have slick socks
  • nonskid soles can catch on some blankets
  • some can be very thick and impossible to wear under shoes
  • socks that fit high on the leg can be difficult to put on
  • microwavable socks can have hotspots that can lead to burns on people who can't feel their feet
  • fleece socks are washable
  • they come in many colors and styles

As you can see, what will work for one person perfectly could be a disaster for another. Think about the person you're buying for and then keep the sales slip if the socks don't work out.

Warming Foot Mats

These are large vinyl mats that lie on the floor and are warmed by electricity. They were originally intended for cold garages or workshops. 

I bought my mother one a few years ago and she loves it.  So do all her dogs. She uses it throughout the winter.  It sets under the chair she sits in to watch TV.  The heat is very mild so we haven't had to worry about any burns.  I would not recommend it for folks with peripheral neuralgia, diabetes, or any other condition that limits feeling in the extremities. 

The mat can be turned on and off and, with the purchase of an additional plug, adjusted to high and low.  They are very durable.  The electricity used is fairly small and we had no trouble with spills of water or coffee.  Some care must be used. It is an electrical device.

Towel Warmers

This is a wonderful and decadent luxury at a very low cost.  There are several types.  Most of us have seen the ones that look like a towel rack.  They are hollow metal tubes filled with oil.  Plug them in and they get warm.  You can hang towels or robes over the rack.  Most are made to either set on the floor or mount on the wall.  These are the least expensive but generally, can't warm a heavy towel for several lighter towels all the way through.  However, I use one for many years and was quite happy with it.  Be aware that they can get quite hot to the touch.  No one at my house was ever burned but it did startle a few folks who touched it by accident.

Last year I moved up to a more sophisticated and expensive towel warmer.  It looks like a big microwave and sets in my bathroom.  It can hold several large towels, washcloths, or a thick robe and slippers.  I turn it on a bit before my shower and all my towels are just toasty.  It is heaven to go from a warm shower to a warm towel.  Obviously, the electricity used is more but I rarely keep the warmer on longer than 45 minutes to an hour. Once again, this is fairly gentle heat so there is little chance of mishaps from hotspots.

I hope this gives you some ideas for some lovely and practical gifts for the senior citizen or person with a disability in your life.

The best gifts are the ones given with love and used with gentle gratitude.

Be sure to read my new hub called Stay Warm 2 for more gift ideas.


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    • Georzetta profile image

      Georzetta Ratcliffe 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Yes, you would need to be very careful with a foot mat. A switch to adjust the heat up and down would be an absolute necessity and even then, you would have to check your feet frequently.

      You might want to check with your doctor first.

    • shecodes profile image

      shecodes 7 years ago

      I'm a diabetic and would welcome the warming foot mat. I'd need to be careful since I do have diabetic neuropathy.

    • profile image

      Cynthia 7 years ago

      In terms of material gifts, the best gift you can give to a disabled senior is the Just5 cell phone. Through this phone, you give him the chance to connect to the world. The phone is perfect for the elderly as it is designed simple and very basic. Plus, the phone can help him go through emergency situations. In a press of the SOS button, the phone can call for help when needed. I read about this phone at