Thoughtful Gifts Of Mobility And Accessibility For An Older Adult 

It’s the season for gift-giving, which often means it’s also the season for not always knowing what to give. You may have friends or family on your list who say “Oh, I don’t want anything” or “Nothing special.”

If you haven’t figured this out, they still would appreciate something from the heart, even if they say “Oh, you shouldn’t have.”

This can be particularly true for loved ones who may think they have enough “stuff” in their life, but may still enjoy getting a nice gift, especially something practical rather than decorative, sentimental, or creating additional clutter.

It may require you, as the gift-giver, to be a little more creative and thoughtful in figuring out what they actually will need and use. It’s one thing to get them what you think could be a useful appliance and then they can’t figure it out so never touch it. So you should instead look for something that can help their life and for them to use and enjoy. This means listening to what they say or observing any problems they may have.

Some easy options are items to help their mobility and general accessibility. Both of these areas have all sorts of benefits. Being able to get around easier and safer can provide them with more freedom and lift their spirits if they’ve been feeling down lately. It could help connect them with the world a little more.

Some suggestions for accessible options include:

  • Different types of canes. They may think there’s only one type of cane out there, but people are surprised that there are many styles, colors, textures, and functions. You can get canes that are like tripods with extra feet that help keep you sturdy. You can get some with cool metallic patterns or intricate wood design. You can even get some with multiple functions like umbrellas. If you’re worried about security, some cane manufacturers can engrave your name or initials. If you’re not sure what the recipient might want, you can get them a gift certificate from a cane supplier or order with them.
  • Home safety equipment. Show them you care about their mobility and balance by making areas of the home safer for them to move around in. This can include removing hazards like area rugs or adding safety equipment to different rooms. For instance, bathrooms can always be safer, especially since they’re potentially dangerous. You can add handles to the shower or non-slip surfaces. A shower chair can also make it easy for someone to sit and not have to stand the whole time. A higher toilet seat is also less expensive than a whole new toilet. Even adding some padding to counter corners can reduce the risk of injury.
  • Better opportunities to browse/watch. Most computers and TVs today offer options for people who want to watch their computer on their TV or vice versa. You may need to ask for some help if the technology is beyond you, but a loved one may have a hard time looking at a small computer or mobile screen but might enjoy looking at the same image on a large-screen TV. This could be a fun way to browse the Internet or write emails. Or they might want to watch TV programming or streaming movies in other areas of the house beyond the TV room, like on their computer.
  • Better views. If someone is having a hard time seeing, you can look for ways to improve this. It can be a matter of getting them new “reader” glasses if their older pairs aren’t working. Or it could be a matter of brightening up the home by installing new light bulbs or even new lamps. A brighter area reduces the risk of stumbling over something you don’t see in dim light. Even a magnifying glass can make it easier to read smaller print,
  • Better communication. If someone is home by themselves, you can provide options for them to keep in touch with the world around them, whether for general correspondence or safety reasons. Showing them how to create and send emails or participate in social networks can go a long way in connecting them with the world around them, especially if it’s more of a challenge to go outside. A new mobile device with modern features might be fun for them to try, especially if they may have an older one. A smart watch might be a useful gift as well as a medical alert device or subscription that they can use to let people know if they have an emergency. This can provide peace of mind for the recipient as well as those around them who may not be able to be there the whole time.

Whether your gifts focus on fun or functional, there are plenty of options available. December is a good month to take a moment to consider what you’re planning to give, and if it’s safe and will be useful. The month is actually Safe Toy and Gifts Month, an annual observance that encourages people to make sure their gifts are appropriate and won’t be harmful. Certainly, safety is important for gifts for children, but it also can be emphasized for others.