20 Useful Tech Gifts for Seniors or Aging Parents

Updated

Certified Care Manager, Aging Life Care Professional, and National Master Guardian Emeritus

Technology devices and services are flooding the market every day. Much tech attention is devoted to seniors or aging parents who want to remain at home and independent for as long as possible. Some of these tech gifts are simple to use, and others are much more complex.

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Choosing the most useful tech gift for a senior involves thinking about what they need and what they can learn to use. Many tech gifts can be confusing and counterproductive to what each of you wants to accomplish. The learning curve for some seniors can be steep and frustrating.

We have some suggestions on tech gifts for seniors to keep them safer, engaged, and independent. Someone, either you, another family member or a trained professional, will need patience to teach a senior how to get the most out of any tech gift. But, once they learn how it can open a whole other world of possibility and engagement.

Innovative Tech Gifts for Seniors Who Want to Remain Independent

Encouraging independence is not as simple as supplying some high-tech gifts and hoping that a senior will remain safe. Sometimes there is no replacement for a family member or professional caregiver that spends time with an aging adult. Also, for this article, technology will refer to computerized or internet-enabled devices and services along with more sophisticated gadgets for making life easier and more independent.

1. Emergency Response Systems (ERS)

Independence is a broad term that can mean many different things to each person. An ERS may arguably be the most crucial technology for keeping seniors safe and independent. And their ease of use makes them indispensable.

But, for seniors to live safely and independently at home, they have to be able to contact someone in an emergency or if they fall. An ERS is a pendant or a watch that will detect a fall and automatically call 911 and family members. Many also have GPS within a specific range to find someone who may wander due to dementia. 

Not much is needed in the way of training since the device is preset. The challenge is getting seniors to wear them 24/7. Some older adults may prefer a watch-type device that doesn’t have the stigma of a neck pendant and isn’t as cumbersome.

2. Automated pill dispensers

Medication compliance and medication errors are significant problems for seniors, resulting in medical complications and even emergency room visits. Automated pill dispensers can be programmed to sound alarms and deliver the correct number of pills up to six times a day. An automated pill dispenser can be valuable for an aging adult who doesn’t have a severe cognitive impairment.

3. Voice-activated devices

Voice-activated devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home serve several purposes: convenience and safety, and the other purposes are more along the lines of fun. The convenience of voice-activated devices is that they can control locking doors, turning on lights, and giving reminders. These systems can tell the time and the weather and provide the news. For someone who is bed-ridden, a voice-activated device can mean the difference between being dependent and having some degree of control over the environment.

4. Monitoring technology

Monitoring technology offers more advanced systems that can send a video of movement, detect falls, and open doors and windows. Most of these systems use cameras and can interface with other devices like a smartwatch or phone.

5. Ring doorbell

Seniors living alone are targets of scammers and thieves. A Ring doorbell detects and captures video motion within 30 feet of the camera. If someone rings your doorbell, you can look on your smartphone to see who is there and communicate with the person without answering the door. To use a Ring doorbell effectively, your loved one will need some degree of expertise in using technology. 

Practical Tech Gifts for an Aging Adult That’ll Make Life Easier

Practicality is often in the eye of the beholder but consider practical gifts in this way. What can you give a senior that makes their life easier and reduces frustration and confusion? You can expect a learning curve, which is fine, but if the gift becomes too challenging, you will have wasted your money on something your aging adult may never use.

6. Cell phone

A cell phone for a senior is almost essential these days. Cell phones allow more freedom of movement, increased communication, and provide safety. For a loved one in a nursing home, a cell phone can be a vital connection to the outside world. What kind of cell phone should you get for an aging adult?

The tendency might be to get a simple flip phone which is fine for basic calling out and receiving calls. But if an aging adult can learn to use a smartphone, the rewards will be immense. A smartphone will tie in all other benefits of technology, including health, safety, brain stimulation, and fun.

7. Roomba robot

The Roomba Robot is an automated cleaning device that can be pre-programmed to clean different surfaces at scheduled times of the day. You can program the Roomba to interface with Alexa or Google Home. Just be careful that your aging adult doesn’t trip over it.

8. Kindle

For older adults who are isolated or can’t go out to the library, a Kindle opens up the world of reading books, magazines, and newspapers. Plus, you can set a Kindle to large print for seniors with eyesight problems.

9. Firestick or Roku

Few things are as frustrating for a senior as using a remote to access movies and streaming platforms. An Amazon Firestick or Roku voice-activated remote takes the guesswork out of finding the right buttons to push. Some simple instructions can get an older adult on their way to enjoy the shows and movies they want.

Fun Tech Gifts for an Aging Adult or Parent

There are lots of fun tech gifts for an aging adult or parent. What works may depend on the person’s level of tech-savvy or their willingness to try something new. The gifts we list here are easy and fun to use.

10. Digital picture frame

Digital picture frames are all the rage because someone doesn’t have to dig out photo albums to enjoy memories. Digital picture frames are programmable and can store tens of thousands of pictures per frame.

11. Noise canceling headphones

Noise-canceling headphones are a great fun gift for anyone. Bluetooth-compatible headphones or earbuds allow an aging adult or parent to enjoy music or listen to a smart TV without disturbing anyone else. 

12. Portable bluetooth speakers

Portable Bluetooth speakers are small and sound great. Then you can sync to your smartphone’s music library for enjoyable music anywhere you go.

13. Instax mini camera

Yes, a version of the polaroid camera is back and more popular than ever. Your loved one can take pictures and get instant prints.

Gadgets for Seniors That Promote Brain or Body Health

Seniors are sometimes reluctant to challenge their brains with technology, but anything that stimulates thinking is beneficial. Any new challenging technology can improve brain health. If your loved one can master an Ipad, computer, or smartphone, the possibilities are limitless. Thousands of games, travelogues, training modules, lectures, and more are available.

14. Ipad

Many seniors find Ipads easier and more accessible than a computer or lab top. The portability and ease of use are appealing. Pretty much any game you can think of, and many you didn’t know existed, are available through the app store. Crosswords, bridge, scrabble, sophisticated cognitive exercises, and hundreds of others are available. An Ipad also opens up communication through online chat groups. Even people with early-stage dementia can use an Ipad with some training.

15. Apple Watch or Fitbit

Apple watches and Fitbits provide a world of health information. They can detect falls, give your heart rate and oxygen and provide notification of an irregular heartbeat. In addition, they have scores of activities for you to log your miles and progress. They can also tell you how well you are sleeping at night.

16. Wii Sports

Wii has games and sports like tennis and golf, where players move their arms to participate in the video game. Wii promotes strength, balance, and flexibility while improving eye-hand coordination. Although Nintendo discontinued making new Wii consoles, they remain very popular with aging adults. 

17. Mindfulness and yoga apps

Mindfulness and yoga apps help participants learn to meditate, reduce stress and learn yoga. Anyone with a smartphone or Ipad can access several teaching platforms to follow at their own pace.

18. Air filters and air quality monitors

Air filters reduce pollen, smoke, pet dander, bacteria, dust, mold dust mites and keep the air clean. Most have an air quality monitor to let you know how well they are working and when to change the filter. Some units can cover several rooms at a time. 

19. Blood pressure home monitoring systems 

Home blood pressure systems have become indispensable for people who need to monitor their blood pressure daily or weekly. Some systems also detect an irregular heartbeat and measure oxygen levels.

20. Exercise bikes

Exercise bikes are a safe way to increase endurance and aerobic capacity. The Schwinn recumbent bike is good for seniors, and you are probably familiar with Peloton and NordicTrack, but there are other good brands as well. Bikes now have computer monitors that can offer live or on-demand workouts with trainers and various programs for any level.

Useful Tech Gifts for Seniors

Your grandchild probably has more familiarity with technology than most seniors. Enlist an adult child or grandchild to help your aging loved one learn how to use some of the gifts we suggest. Both will benefit from the experience. Once an adult feels comfortable using technology, the possibilities are limitless. 

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