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25 of the very best gifts for seniors that they'll actually want and use

25 of the very best gifts for seniors that they'll actually want and use

You probably agree that the two demographics who are unusually hard to shop for are teens and seniors. They're both usually quite picky, are often set in their ways and trust their friend's recommendations above all. That said, teen are a notoriously online bunch, so figuring out what they might think is cool only takes a few minutes scrolling through the latest trends on TikTok to find a solid gift idea (hello, Stanley Tumblers and COSRX Snail Mucin Essence!). Figuring out the best gift ideas for seniors, on the other hand, takes a little more effort and creativity.

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What makes shopping for seniors especially challenging is that they have a unique set of needs. You want gifts that aren't too techy or complicated to set up and maintain on their own. They can't be too heavy, cumbersome to use or have lots of small, fiddly parts that are hard for aging hands to maneuver. Ideally you want to gift useful and innovative gadgets that makes life easier for them, especially if they still live alone. Most of all, you want something they'll actually use and love. It's a high bar, but fortunately, it's not an impossible one to scale.

We at AOL consider ourselves experts in sniffing out the best products, especially among those who are 50 and up — a cohort that often gets overlooked on the internet. Our testing experts pride themselves on the hours of research they put into our guides for the older crowd, from the best cellphones for seniors to what kind of skin care routine you should have in your 60s — and much, more more. We've spent years testing, researching and talking to experts about which items are ideal for the aging parents, grandparents you might know. With that in mind, take a look below at what we think are some of the very best gifts for them.

When the power goes out, be ready with this combination nightlight that converts into an emergency flashlight when needed. 

I first discovered these handy nightlights from my nearly 60-year-old mother, who lives alone in a part of the country where tornados and electricity-shuttering thunderstorms are common. She purchased some lights like this so that she could see around the house at night, but also in the case of an emergency if her power were to go out. And I'm glad she did! 

These ones from Sunbeam are made with a color-changing LED light that automatically turns on from dusk to dawn for everyday use or can be set to only come on with motion. During power failures, they'll shine bright white and can be removed from the outlet and used as a portable flashlight. With a long life LED, this night light will outshine the rest. 

And it's not just a good product for aging parents who live alone — if you live in a storm area that frequently loses electricity, it's a smart idea to have a couple of these around the house for peace of mind. 

"The thing that makes this plug in light so great is that when power goes out, it stays on," said a happy reviewer. "You can also use it as a flashlight or task light, no batteries needed! I wish I bought these years ago! They are super handy. No more searching around for a flashlight when the power goes out, no more worrying about batteries."

$35 at Walmart
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$50 at Lowe's$45 at Office Depot

Make picking up everyday items around the house even easier, whether they have limited mobility from arthritis, diabetes or carpal tunnel. This gadget has powerful claws that grip small, large and odd-shaped items with ease. The built-in magnet allows you to pick up metal items like nails, keys and coins with ease. It has three adjustable angles — 45º, 90º and 180º — so you can easily change the angle to pick up objects in high positions or things in the corners.

Nearly 6,000 Walmart reviewers have given this gadget a 4.8-star rating, which speaks for itself. 

"This Grabber worked perfectly for me. Right size for someone in wheelchair," said one reviewer. "At 73 and 74, we need a little extra help now and then. We would recommend this to anyone."

$13 at Walmart

When you have limited mobility, even the so-called simplest of tasks can become a monumental chore. Whether you're elderly or have arthritis or diabetes this genius gadget will make putting on and taking off your socks easier than ever — without the need to bend down. 

This little device comes with one sock slider and one sock remover. The slider widens the sock and creates a slide for it to slip onto the foot seamlessly. Attached cords are used to pull the sock up onto the foot all the way. The sock remover is a unique spliced design that slips the sock down from the foot, without the need to bend down.  

In fact, over 1,000 reviewers at Walmart have given this small but mighty tool a 4.8-star rating. 

"I bought this for my father, he is mid-70s and having back issues," said one reviewer. "He hated asking for help with his socks. This helped him feel more independent again."

$16 at Walmart

In our guide to the best skin care routine for your 50s, experts told us that our skin gets drier and loses moisture as we age. A rich moisturizer with a sensitive formula, like La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair moisturizer, is recommended.

"Incorporate rich moisturizers with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and fatty acids to replenish moisture and strengthen the skin barrier," Dr. T. N. Rekha Singh, dermatologist at Oliva Skin and Hair Clinic. "Opt for gentler formulations to minimize irritation and sensitivity as the skin becomes more delicate."

This moisturizer has a lightweight yet creamy formula that's gentle enough for sensitive skin, but because it's made with ceramides and niacinamide it locks in moisture and restores its vitality for a healthy skin barrier.

$19 at Amazon
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$19 at Walmart

Android phones and iPhones can be made senior-friendly, but the Smart3 arrives that way. It's a phone made specifically with seniors in mind, which is why we've dubbed it our very best overall cellphone for seniors.

It offers a handful of core features — phone, text messages and email — represented by large buttons that are clearly labeled with a simple menu accessed via a touchscreen. At the very top is an “Urgent Response” button for quick access to live caregivers who can assist with everything from rides for minor health issues or immediate response during an emergency. It can also be set to notify friends and family if that emergency button gets tapped.

The phone itself is quite affordable, and service plans start at just $20 per month. While it’s not the most capable smartphone available, it is a great option for seniors looking for the basics and added safety measures. 

$87 at Amazon
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$75 at Rite Aid$112 at Walgreens

A video doorbell is an excellent security tool, allowing you to see who's at your front door whether you're home or not. It can detect humans, pets, package delivery and more. This Ring Video Doorbell comes with 1080p resolution for a crystal-clear view of your front porch. This model has improved motion detection over previous versions, and you can review video footage for up to 180 days with a Ring Protect Plan. There are multiple setup options, too: Use the built-in rechargeable battery or connect it to existing doorbell wires.

With 1080p resolution, two-way audio and lots of other useful features, this is the one video doorbell to rule them all. It's a good tool so you can keep an eye on your visitors and your deliveries.

$100 at Amazon
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$100 at Macy's$100 at Lowe's

This button assisting device is a time saver for anyone who's dealing with limited mobility or tremors in their fingers as they age. The comfortable grip, snag free wire loop and zipper puller works with any size buttons. The zipper puller hook tip is smoothed out to prevent damaging clothes.

The only problem? Many reviewers wish they'd learned about it sooner!

"I have limited flexibility in my 50 year old fingers and hands," said one happy reviewer. "I can't button my top button of my collared shirt that I wear for my job. I also wear a tie and always had to have my loving wife help me. There were times when I had to leave early and hated waking her but she didn't mind it. Now that is no longer an issue! Because of this wonderful device I can now very easily button my button. It is an awesome device and my only issue is that I should've bought it sooner!"

$12 at Walmart

Keep track of the entire family’s birthdays with this customizable birthday calendar wall art. Choose your color preference, select how many circle and heart discs you want to represent family members, and let the seller know if you’d like any personalizations (i.e. names) added to those discs. It’s a cute and fun way to keep track of birthdays without needing to refer to a planner or diary.

$40 at Etsy

The Original Under Cabinet Jar Opener is a pretty genius kitchen tool, designed for anyone with weaker hands, such as folks with arthritis, seniors or those with other disabilities that limit their dexterity. 

The tool itself is pretty easy to set up, too. It's designed to be mounted under your cabinet so it's out of sight. Once it's mounted securely, the unique v-shape is designed to grip jars and lids of any size using its sharp carbon steel teeth that do the hard work of twisting and unsealing for you.

It comes with peel and stick tape to make installation easy and simple, though we do recommend securely mounting it with the included screws for added safety. Once installed, use it to open jars and lids of any size, from small nail polish bottles to bulky pickle jar lids and more.

$15 at Amazon
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$15 at Walmart

Never loses your phone, keys, luggage or wallet again with a pack of Apple AirTags. Use them to keep tabs on all of your most prized possessions and make it easy to find them when they're misplaced. 

If you aren't familiar with AirTags, they work by using the same technology as the "Find My" features on all Apple devices. Basically, they work by sending a Bluetooth signal to nearby Apple devices that then send the AirTag's location to Apple's servers. There's also separate technology within AirTags that lets you more closely locate items within a closer range like in a room or house.

The unique Bluetooth technology means that AirTags are useful for more than just tracking lost luggage — though I'd argue that's probably one of the best use cases for them. Many reviewers place an AirTag on their keys so they don't lose them. There are AirTag pet collar holders that can be used to keep tabs on where your four-legged friend has wandered off to. Some parents have even been known to use AirTag wristbands and AirTag pinnable holders to keep tabs on their children or even aging, elderly relatives.

$80 at Amazon
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$80 at Walmart$99 at Adorama

Hot water bottles are great for aches and pains, but they’re a pain to fill and reheat. That’s why we like this electric hot water bottle. It’s an ingenious design that allows the pillowy water-filled pad to be heated internally kind of like an electric kettle. In just 15 minutes, you’ll have a heated water bottle pad that stays warm for up to 5 hours. And when it needs reheating, simply plug it back in for another quick 15 minute reheat. It never needs refilling, it doesn’t require a microwave and there’s no boiling water involved, which makes it a smart choice for seniors.

$30 at Amazon
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$50 at Belk

For folks with extremely dry, rough, weathered hands, we recommend reaching for a tube of Weleda Skin Food. Its nourishing formula is made without parabens and phthalates, synthetic fragrances or preservatives and instead is fragranced with extracts of rosemary, chamomile, and pansy in a nourishing base of sunflower and sweet almond oils. It’s an extremely thick formula that goes on greasy, but leaves hands feeling like they’ve just enjoyed a tall glass of water. It’s also designed with a flip-top tube that’s easy for those with arthritis and limited dexterity to open. For that reason, we think this nice hand cream makes an excellent gift for moms, grandmothers and pretty much any senior on your list who suffers from dry hands.

$17 at Amazon
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$20 at Macy's$20 at CVS Pharmacy

If they’re dealing with more than just dry hands, Kate McLeod’s Daily Stone is a solid body moisturizer that’s easy to apply. Shaped like a solid bar similar to soap, this lotion solid glides onto warm skin like silk and leaves you feeling soft and supple. It’s made with skin-loving ingredients like cocoa butter, sweet almond oil and apricot kernel oil to deliver powerful results you can see almost instantly. It has a light floral blend of rose, frankincense and neroli that’s subtle enough for everyday use.This starter kit includes a reusable bamboo canister to easily store the Daily Stone in, but be sure to keep it out of direct heat. Because it’s designed to melt onto warm skin, it can also melt in extreme temperatures.

$45 at Sephora

We ranked Loop’s Wi-Fi Digital Picture Frame as one of our best digital picture frames for one simple reason: it can receive new photos via text message. That feature alone makes it a great gift for seniors who might not be interested in a fancy digital picture frame that requires a smartphone and dedicated app. Instead, each frame comes with its own dedicated phone number, which you simply text to add new photos to the frame’s rotation. According to our reviewer Rick Broida, “the Loop proved one of the more novice-friendly frames I've used. The app and onscreen settings menus are simple and straightforward, allowing you to set up different albums and tweak things like photo transition time and sleep mode.” We also like that this frame doesn’t come with quite as steep a price tag as other digital frames we’ve tested and recommended.

$180 at Amazon

Running cold is a part of life as you age, but fortunately gadgets like this heated mattress pad are designed to help you stay warm throughout the night. This option from Sunbeam includes dual controls with up to 12 different heat settings so that each side of the bed can control just how warm — or not — they want to be. It also includes a 12 hour auto shut-off choice, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to turn it off in the morning.

$50 at Amazon

If you’re shopping for a senior who likes to spend a lot of time outdoors, from long walks around the park with the dog, to bird watching, to golfing, we recommend a pair of rechargeable hand warmers like these from Ocoopa. These small pocket-sized heaters are long-lasting and rechargeable, and can even recharge your phone on-the-go too, if necessary. They have three heat settings, up to 131-degree Fahrenheit.

$28 at Amazon

Our furry friends are one of the family, which is why we highly recommend a customized pet portrait as one of the most unique and thoughtful gift ideas you can get for a senior. This Etsy artist paints a customized portrait of your pet using a reference photo, and the results are truly magical. And you don’t only have to think about current pets. Portraits of childhood pets or furry companions who’ve since passed away is a thoughtful way to honor their memory, while giving a gift that will last a lifetime.

$40 at Etsy

Ancestry's DNA testing kit is a genius gift idea for aging parents and grandparents who might be interested in learning more about where they're from. AncestryDNA tells you which countries you're from as well as the specific regions within those countries. See more than 2,600 different regions of the world that can make up your ethnicity, learn the history of the areas, and discover facts about the people who lived in those regions, from ancient to modern times. It's a fascinating tool for seniors who've ever been interested in tracking family history and have some questions of their own that they want answers to. 

$99 at Amazon
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$99 at Walmart

Nice chocolates are one of the best gifts you can buy anyone, period. For seniors, we recommend steering clear of super chewy and hard candies like toffee and nuts, which is why we love these truffles from Harry and David. This 24-pack of truffles arrives delightfully wrapped in stylish Harry and David packaging, and has a mix of flavors: dark chocolate cherry, white chocolate coffee, milk chocolate almond, dark chocolate raspberry, as well as plain dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Is your mouth watering yet?

$50 at Harry and David

For the senior who loves their morning — and late morning, and afternoon, and evening — cup of coffee, this Keurig K-Express Single-Serve coffee maker is an excellent gift idea. Not only is it easy to use — simply grab a mug with water, pour the water into the back of the coffee maker, select your brew size and pop in a coffee pod — but it’s essentially no clean-up. Toss the pod in the trash or compost (depending on the type of coffee pods you use) and it’s ready for the next cuppa. We love this coffee maker for seniors who love having hot coffee throughout the day, but who might not want something complex and with much mess. Choose from several different colors and pair it with a box of their favorite blend for a gift they’ll use over and over.

$59 at Walmart

AOL's Rick Broida ranks these as the best budget pick in our guide to the best wireless headphone for seniors — and it's not hard to see why. Recommended for its sound quality, battery life, and low price, these headphones are a smart gift for seniors who are comfortable with Bluetooth technology and who like to watch TV or listen to music from a computer, tablet or phone. 

$64 at Amazon

If there’s one thing everyone can universally agree upon, it’s that not having to cook dinner is one of life’s greatest blessings. Gifting someone with ready-to-cook dinners like Home Chef’s Fresh & Easy meals is a gift that you know will be appreciated. Each meal is prepped, portioned and ready to cook with little to no clean-up — simply pop them in the microwave, heat them in the oven or toss them on the grill. Oven and grill meals come in oven-safe trays or grill-ready bags so you don’t even have to dirty a pan or tray on the way to a fresh meal that’s just as good as something home cooked. If you’re shopping as a gift, be sure to sign up with Home Chef’s Fresh & Easy plan to get all of these meals that are ready in a matter of minutes.

From $8 per meal at Home Chef

There’s nothing more frustrating than losing something important like your keys, phone or wallet. This Tile Mate is designed to help you in those situations. You can easily attach it to purses, keys, backpacks or wallets so you can keep track of them. Simply download the Tile app, and when something goes missing, open the app and tap “Find” for the Tile Mate to set off a loud ring. If you’ve lost your phone, on the other hand, simply double tap the button on your Tile Mate and your phone will beep. It’s a smart solution for seniors who are comfortable with smartphones, but who might need some help remembering where they set things down.

$25 at Amazon
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$25 at Walmart$25 at Target

Gifts like magazine subscriptions will rarely go to waste if they’re a senior who loves nothing more than cozying up with a good story. Reader’s Digest comes with a large print edition that’s easier for aging eyes to enjoy, and a year-long subscription is a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. If they aren’t into Reader’s Digest, a subscription to their favorite hobbyist magazine — whether it’s travel, cooking, birds or hunting — would make for a thoughtful gift, too.

$11 at Amazon