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Gift Ideas For Seniors, The Elderly and Shut-ins

Updated on October 31, 2016

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 | Source

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!

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!


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    • Sheri Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheri Dusseault 

      4 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

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

    • Sheri Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheri Dusseault 

      5 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      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!

    • Glenis Rix profile image

      Glen Rix 

      5 years ago from UK

      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 Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheri Dusseault 

      6 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Thanks Gran loves it when I bring her music.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

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

    • Sheri Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheri Dusseault 

      7 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Thanks Gypsy48

    • Gypsy48 profile image


      7 years ago

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

    • Sheri Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheri Dusseault 

      7 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Thanks rdsp0arrowriter. That is video is fun!

    • rdsparrowriter profile image

      Rochelle Ann De Zoysa 

      7 years ago from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

      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 Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheri Dusseault 

      7 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Thanks Lurana. It was a fun one to write.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

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

    • Sheri Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheri Dusseault 

      7 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      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.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      7 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      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 Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheri Dusseault 

      7 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Thanks tillsonitian. Soaps are a good idea.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      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 Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheri Dusseault 

      7 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Thank you NateB11. I hope your mom enjoys!

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 

      7 years ago from California, United States of America

      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 Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheri Dusseault 

      7 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

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

    • Sheri Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheri Dusseault 

      7 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

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

    • Sheri Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheri Dusseault 

      7 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

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

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 

      7 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

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

    • kidscrafts profile image


      7 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      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!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

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

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image


      7 years ago from Windsor, Connecticut

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

      Voted up and sharing.

    • Gcrhoads64 profile image

      Gable Rhoads 

      7 years ago from North Dakota

      Great ideas, Sheri Faye ++

    • Sheri Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheri Dusseault 

      7 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      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.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      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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