The holiday season is a great time to spread joy by showing your appreciation for your loved ones.

When you are thinking about what gifts to purchase for your older loved ones, consider items that allow them to stay connected and feel included. Here are a few suggestions of technology-enabled devices that you can give your older loved ones this holiday season:

  • Smart Speakers: Our loved one’s mobility and dexterity will naturally decline as they age, which makes completing everyday tasks more difficult. Smart speakers with voice assist, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Nest, can be especially helpful for seniors with mobility issues or visual impairment as they can be used without having to get up and move around. They can help the person with a range of tasks including turning on the lights, setting medication reminders,  sharing the time, reading the news, playing your favorite music or radio stations. These devices can offer assistance when no one is there.
  • Library at Home – ebook readers: Who doesn’t love to read a good book over the holidays? Reading is not only an enjoyable activity, but it can also provide other benefits for older people adults including enhanced memory retention, sharper decision-making and better sleep, among others. The Kindle Paperwhite is an ideal gift, offering adjustable lighting and font sizes, increased line spacing, talking menus and some have text to speech functionality to play audiobooks. Additionally, consider gifting a subscription to Audible or a similar service for avid readers with visual impairment vision, which can be linked to a smart speaker for enhanced enjoyment.
  • Technology You Can Wear: Physical activity is an important part of nearly everyone’s everyday health, including older adults. Even 30 minutes of movement a day can make a difference. For older individuals, smartwatches can support more than just fitness goals, they can become valuable tools for monitoring health and safety by tracking a person’s heart rate, blood oxygen levels, sleep and step count which provides valuable insights into overall health. Some models even offer GPS tracking which may be particularly beneficial for seniors with memory issues or those who enjoy outdoor activities. In addition, some devices are able to detect falls and have emergency SOS features, ensuring prompt assistance in case of accidents. On top of these health measures, the watch also tracks workouts and reminds you of your “move” goals for the day. A variety of wearable smart devices are available from Apple, Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung and Google.
  • A Picture Worth a Thousand Words: Everyone needs social connections to survive and thrive. But as people age, they often find themselves spending more time alone which may increase the feelings of loneliness and being social isolated. This can substantially impact on health and well-being. Digital photo frames can help people feel more connected to their loved ones. Alternatively, video calling devices such as the Meta Portal can make video calling easier.
  • Tablets with Safety in Mind: According to Pew Research Center, 44% of those adults 65 and older said they currently owned a tablet. These can be a great way of staying connected to others but can also help with everyday tasks that may have become more difficult including:
    • Online shopping
    • Puzzles and games which can help to support cognitive function and social connectedness such as Words with Friends or crosswords
    • Listening to favourite bands, artists or specific genres of music
    • Listening to audiobooks
    • Video calling
    • Using the internet
    • Being informed about the latest news, weather or sports scores
    • Taking pictures and videos

When looking into getting a tablet for an older person, it might be worth considering whether the device can support the following: adjustable font size, voice activation, sound or volume adjustment capacity, and hearing aid compatibility.

  • A Modern Spin on a Furry Friend: As our loved ones age, caring for others, including their furry friends, becomes more challenging. This often leads to older adults not having the capacity to take care of their very own furry friends they grew up loving. Animals can provide important forms of social and emotional support for older adults that can reduce stress, loneliness and improve overall quality of life. The Dementia Shop offers lifelike companion dogs and cats,  complete with realistic fur, authentic sounds, sensors and speakers to form a meaningful bond by responding to voices.

Holidays are a great time to reflect. Take time to think about our older adults a little more and ask yourself how you can make them feel a part of your life, even if you aren’t always together. Everyone has their own way of showing appreciation and gratitude, but we hope these gifts will connect you with your loved ones more than ever.