It’s that time of year again and finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list may seem like an insurmountable challenge. We know how hard it is to find something that will be useful, affordable and just the thing someone never knew they needed! In Part I of this blog post, we reviewed smartphones, tablets and a device that can receive text messages without requiring a computer or cell phone. We continue our list with some of the most popular technology gifts for seniors.

E-Readers – Remember the days when a quiet evening at home usually meant curling up with a good book? No? Chances are an older generation remembers those times fondly. Unfortunately, aging adults may have trouble getting to bookstores or libraries as often as they used to, they may be homebound or living in a smaller residence, without much space to store numerous books. One solution might be to give your elderly loved one an e-reader this year. Without all the bells and whistles of tablet computers and larger than smartphones, Amazon and Barnes & Noble offer several varieties of Kindles and Nooks. The New York Times recently compared these popular e-readers, offering helpful insight to help you make your purchasing decision. For side-by-side comparisons of the top e-readers on the market, check out Top Ten Reviews.

Gaming Consoles – Unable to physically participate in the games and sports they once enjoyed, seniors may enjoy the physical and mental challenge offered by fitness game systems. Low-impact play in their home or community center can help keep an older adult’s mind and body active. The New York Times reports that studies have shown that strength and balance may improve “significantly” when older adults play active video games or exergame (the combination of exercising and playing a video game). While a bowling ball may be difficult to manage for arthritic fingers or running down a fast-paced ground stroke isn’t happening after a hip replacement, the NintendoWii Sports game pack and the Xbox 360 Kinect bundle feature popular sports such as bowling, tennis, soccer, golf, volleyball and even dancing.

Home WiFi – Don’t leave your aging loved one in an informational blackout, set them up with their own secure wireless Internet connection (WiFi). Before installing an individual system, find out if the retirement community assisted living facility or nursing home where your favorite senior citizen resides already offers a WiFi network, which would be ideal for downloading books, music or videos. If the community WiFi system is secure, simply load the WiFi network name and passcode into all the appropriate devices. If only a public WiFi system is available, one that does not require a passcode, you should install a secure home WiFi network with an encrypted passcode, especially if anyone will be doing any online banking, shopping or bill paying. If you are not sure how to set up a home WiFi yourself, contact the Internet service provider to find out if they offer set up assistance by phone or home installation. Many major electronic retail stores also offer technical assistance, such as Best Buy’s Geek Squad.

Whether you decide to give a high tech gift or not, it is important to remember that any gift will be used and most appreciated if it is actually needed or wanted by your loved one. If you are presenting your loved one with a gift that is unexpected, please make sure you have the time and patience to help the recipient learn how to use the device. The time you spend together may be the most important part of the gift and will give the recipient a chance to truly see what the gift of technology may enhance their life.

If the time has come when you or a family member can no longer maintain an independent lifestyle, please contact ElderLink to learn about senior care services and facilities available throughout California.