The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes the dilemma of finding great gifts for loved ones and friends. It can be especially challenging to find something special for an older family member or friend who may have everything they need, or think they do. You may shy away from technology oriented gifts, but older people are often more tech-savvy, and tech appreciative than we might think. Opening the world of technology to an older person is a gift that will keep on giving, so this year my gift recommendations are focused on technology related gifts.
Here are my suggestions for thoughtful and easy-to-get gifts.
Tablets and eReaders: These remain at the very top of my list as they continue to evolve and provide seniors with access to functions and apps that really can make a diffierence in their daily lives. In addition to games, books and movies, tablets offer the opportunity to communicate with family via live chat features, and access apps that encourage communication, and physical and mental activity.
There are many options for tablets and eReaders but the iPAD or iPad mini is my favorite for seniors because it offers an easy live chatting connection through Face Time, and free classes or one-on-ones to learn how to use it at any Apple store. They can bev purchased on line on Amazon, or at retailers such as the Apple Store, Best Buy and Brands Mart.
Fitness trackers: Fitness trackers come in a range of prices and offer a range of functions. These are devices the user wears on their wrist or clothing which track activity by counting steps, calories burned, and sleep time, among other things. Options include Fit-bit which has a wrist version as well as the Fitbit Zip, which clips on to clothing, and the Jawbone UP2. These tracking devices will also synchronize with tablets through an app, and can be connected in groups, giving families and friends the opportunity to compete with each other as well as monitor activity levels. I have a friend here in Miami who is competing in daily steps with his mother in Texas and his brother in California! These are also available on Amazon and at most major stores.
A good set of Headphones, to be used with a tablet is a great and practical gift. Hearing changes as we age, so earphones that offer noise cancelling and reduced bass are a better choice for older people. The earphones noted just below range in price from around $20 to $100 and can also be used for phone calls, which is an added plus. The Sennheiser HD471G and Sony MDRZX110AP, are both over the ear models that provide great sound and hands free connection. For smaller earphones that sit over the ear, or ear bud style, there are some great options too such as the Photive PH-BTE70, BOHM wireless Bluetooth headphones, and Earjax BZ-ELS90-0611. These meet the needs of seniors yet are small and appropriate for use while walking or exercising. All of these are available on Amazon
Tablet case or cover
A case or cover will protect the Tablet from harm and they come in a variety of styles and colors. Some covers come with a stand feature so the tablet can stand on a table or counter top. Some provide automatic wake/or sleep, so that by closing the cover, the tablet goes into sleep mode, which saves battery power. Think about how the tablet is being used and the preferences and needs of your loved one to decide which one is best. Tablet covers and cases are available at the Apple Store, on Amazon or at most major retailers.
Here’s a gadget and app that so many of us will find helpful. It’s a great way to find the items you lose all the time like keys, remotes, vitamins, eReader, iPad, you name it. The app itself is free, but you must purchase the tiles. The small tiles are then attached to the item you tend to lose, and then you also download the APP. If you cant find your keys, use the app on your tablet or find to detect them. If you can’t find your tablet, but have a Tile on your keys, just double press the button on the Tile, to make you tablet or phone ring. If you are like me, you will find the $20-25 tile well worth the price. I know I'm not alone. I've seen them on countless key chains. Tile is available on Amazon and at major retailers.
If your loved one already has a Tablet, but hasn’t found the right apps to keep them interested, there are a lot of great options. Here are some Tablet apps having and giving, and well-worth taking the time to help set up, if necessary.
Audible Audio Books
Amazon offers Audible, an online service of audio books with 180,000 titles. The subscription cost is $14.95 per month and includes unlimited audio books, which can be accessed through the Audible app on a smart phone or tablet. This means users can listen to the books through their phone or tablet using headphones or Bluetooth speaker, so books can be listened to at home, in the car or in the Doctor’s waiting room. To take a look, go to Audible.
GreyMatters is an exciting and interactive free iPad app that that makes it easy to share memories and stories with family members suffering from Alzheimer's disease or other dementias. I can tell you first hand that communicating is one of the most difficult aspects of caring for a parent with dementia. But several years ago, I realized that sharing memories over family photos was one of the easiest and most fulfilling ways for me to communicate with my father who had dementia.
Offered by GreyMatters LLC, this app is basically an interactive life storybook that includes preloaded music from past decades, and memory games. It lets you add personal family photos with easy-to-read text, and can bring a big smile and a long-lost "spark of life" to seniors who spend their days lost in their own worlds. In addition, it creates a lasting treasure for the whole family.
For a nice family activity ask family members and friends to add photos. Sharing the life stories of loved ones is a wonderful way to come together over the holidays.
Discover and share favorite books on this app. It's recommended by 20 million members. This app and website give avid readers the opportunity to rate their favorite books, past and present and then get recommendations for books to read based on their interests and ratings. In addition, there are on-line book clubs for all kinds of readers such as Oprah’s Book Club, Historical Fiction, Biography, Science Fiction or mixed interests. Users can also participate in quizzes, literary trivia and creative writing activities. With all that it offers, this app is easy to let your mind get lost in, just like a good book. Click here to view their lists of Best Books for 2016
Glamsquad is a mobile beauty provider delivering professional and affordable beauty services to the home, office or hotel in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles and coming soon to Washington, DC. I think this is a great service for older women who may not be so mobile, and one of my favorites, because it is a great way to spend a mother-daughter day primping. While it is app driven, they do have real live people that you can talk to, and the app becomes very easy to use after setting it-up. The services are prepaid, so you can send the Glamsquad to a loved one as a special treat. For more information on Glamsquad read my recent post. BeGlammed is another app that provides this service in other areas. Regardless of where you and/or your loved one lives, there is likely to be a service like this available.
I keep a list of APPs that I like, so don't forget to stop by and check them. You can find them in the resource section of the Seniority Matters website.
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