How to shop for an older adult

It’s easy to shop for children — books, toys, games and other products geared for the young abound. But how do you shop for an older adult who may be trying to downsize or who simply doesn’t want more stuff lying around to dust?

• Pay attention to the older adult’s needs. For example, if she’s always cold — a common result of some medications — get her a soft, comfy sweater in her favorite bright color. She’ll wear it every day and tell everyone how great it is. Just make sure you know her size!

• Look for products that may help with everyday tasks. If he has arthritis in his hands, a jar-opening gadget may do the trick. If she likes to write, she’ll appreciate an ergonomic pen designed for stiff fingers. You may not have to buy something expensive or big, just something that’s well designed, useful and attractive.

• For the frugal older adult, help out with a luxury. Get him or her something they’ll appreciate and use but may not buy for themselves. If your older adult friend or relative likes to be pampered, pay for a trip to her favorite salon for a style and a manicure. (If she lives at a retirement community, most likely you can get a gift certificate to the in-house salon.) If he’s a tea drinker, buy him a nice sampler of his favorite teas.

• If you live nearby, offer your services. You can design and print coupons that offer your handyman, housekeeping or chauffeur services for an hour once a week, once a month, or in whatever form works for you. An hour of your time here and there could mean the world to an older adult living on his or her own.

• Take the older adult’s abilities into account. For the older adult with cognitive limitations, the Alzheimer’s Association offers this helpful shopping guide, broken out by Alzheimer’s stage. Remember to pick up a little something for the older adult’s caregivers.

These are just a few ideas. You’re limited only by your imagination and creativity. Happy holidays to you and to the older adults in your life!