Choosing a gift for your aging parents can be a challenge. Why not give them something they’ll actually use? How about a gift that may even make their lives easier? Advances in technology continue to provide new gadgets that not only provide entertainment, but help us connect with friends and family, perform menial tasks and make us safer. We’re moving into a more automated, tech dominated age, so why not help your senior loved ones get there a little faster.
Here are seven practical tech gift ideas for seniors:
- Digital Assistant
From Amazon’s Echo line to Google’s Hub, there are an increasing number of digital assistants that do a great job of helping us out. These devices respond to vocal commands or questions. They can tell you the weather, play requested songs or radio stations, set timers and alarms, deliver news reports, look up trivial facts and play games. That’s just some of what these tools can do. Many can be paired with “smart” products like lights, locks and even HVAC controls to provide you with the ability to deliver voice commands like, “Alexa, turn on the kitchen lights,” or “Google, turn the temperature up to 73 degrees.” If you have two, say one upstairs and one downstairs you can use them as an intercom system. One consideration, most digital assistants must be paired with a smart phone or tablet in order to connect to the internet.
- Tablet Device
You’ll find an increasing variety of tablet computers to choose from. They range widely in price, size and capability. Most name brand devices provide a person with everything they once had to use a desktop computer to do. Tablets are excellent to surf the web on, especially if you’d rather be on the couch instead of sitting in front of a desk. They also make it easy to connect with friends and family through video chat, texting or email. But the best thing about tablets are the apps you can get for them. There are millions of apps for tablets that let you play games, read books, listen to books, watch movies, connect through social media, help with household tasks and provide information on everything from the weather and news to recipes, shopping and banking. Tablets are also great for taking pictures and videos, then sharing those or and looking other people’s pictures and videos.
- Digital Photo Frame
Digital photo frames have come a long way in a short time. Just a few years ago these required memory sticks, which you had to plug into a computer in order to load with photos. Today’s digital photo frames offer much better optics, but the ability to display photos that are emailed or placed on the cloud, a virtual storage space. This means you could take pictures then send them to your parents’ photo frame without them having to lift a finger. It’s like magic.
- Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
Perhaps nowhere has robotic technology been more utilized than to do things we don’t really like doing. Vacuuming is one of those and advancements in robotic vacuums have really improved. There are a couple models on the market that have proven themselves as efficient machines, capable of handling the chore of keeping our floors dust and dirt free. These devices can be programmed to turn on at certain times, like when you are not at home. They navigate around things like tables and chairs and can sweep under beds, dressers and desks. Through a smartphone app they can tell you where they’ve cleaned or turned on and off.
- Flameless Candle
It’s become hard to tell if a candle on the mantel is real or not. Flameless candle makers have designed candles that can fool you into thinking there’s a real flame. LED lights twinkle, flicker and even look like they’re blowing in the wind. But the best thing about these candles is there are no fire hazards. That means no smoke, no burned fingers and no dripping wax. Many flameless candles can be turned off and on by a remote control or set on a timer to come on when it’s dark and turn off when you go to bed. They make a great gift for someone who loves a candlelight atmosphere but doesn’t want to deal with real flames.
- Item Locator
Imagine misplacing your keys, wallet or purse and being able to open an app on your phone to find what you lost. Well, that dream is now a reality thanks to a variety of item location devices like Tile, Chipolo and TrackR. You just pair the locator with your phone then attach it to whatever you want to track. To find a lost item that’s within 100 feet of your phone just use the app and the locator will make a noise alerting you to its location. For items further away you can see its general location on a map. But what if you lose your phone? Just push the locator and it will make your phone ring.
There are also a number of locators, like Esky and Magicfly, that don’t connect to a smartphone, but use their own tracking pad. The concept is very similar, just attach the trackers to items you want to track and then press the color coded button when you want to find a specific item and you’ll hear a beep to help you locate it.
- Dexterity Devices
Technology doesn’t always have to involve smartphones and computer chips. Sometimes the best technological innovations simply make it easier for us to do things. There are many new products designed with seniors in mind, or those of us who need a bit of help grasping, reaching and bending. These include jar, bottle and can openers, no tie shoelaces, magnetic necklace clasps and tools that help you pick up things without having to bend down or get on a stool or ladder to reach.
At Brookdale, we’re always looking at ways technology can improve the lives of our residents, whether it’s by helping them complete tasks, stay connected to family and friends or have fun. You can’t go wrong when you give a senior a gift that enhances their life.