The holiday season is rapidly approaching and Black Friday is just around the corner. But don’t forget about Cyber Monday. The popular technology and electronics sale day held the Monday after Thanksgiving just might offer some of the best deals for your elderly family member this year.

Finding the perfect gift for our loved ones can a challenge for anyone. Many times our parents or grandparents discourage us from buying them anything or don’t know what they really need. Should you try to find something practical and useful, like a warm throw, or should you look for something fun and entertaining, like a game? Don’t worry; you might be just able to fulfill all your gift goals.

New technology products are becoming increasingly useful for our aging population and may even make life both easier and more enjoyable for homebound seniors.

Cell Phones
Prepaid/No-contract Mobile Phone Plans – Not sure if your favorite senior citizen will be able to master a smart phone or does she only want a phone for emergencies? A prepaid cell phone plan might be the perfect option. All the major wireless carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, Virgin Mobile and T-Mobile offer a variety of cell phone devices without committing to a one or two year contract. PC Magazine PC Magazine and C|Net breakdown some of the best plans currently available.
Big Button Cell Phones – From the Jitterbug to the Snapfon Ez, there is a growing market for cell phones for seniors. Featuring big buttons, large screens and enhanced volume controls, these cell phones are made to be durable and useful. Unlike many of the cutting-edge smartphones, these cell phones are usually pretty simple, offering basic and emergency dialing, text messaging and maybe a camera. However, these phones are easy to hold, read and dial and are usually less expensive because you do not need to pay for an Internet data plan. reviewed the top five cell phones for seniors earlier this year.
Smartphones – For the tech savvy senior, a smartphone is definitely something to consider. Many smartphones now feature high-definition, large screens, allowing the sharpened images to be seen more clearly. With the capability to email, shoot photos or videos as well as use plenty of helpful apps, these hand-held computers can be a valuable tool for people of all ages. Available with both no-contract and contract plans through all the major carriers; smartphones are both fun and useful if you have the dexterity to use them. However, if someone suffers from arthritis, shaky hands or poor eyesight, a smartphone would not be a good choice. If the recipient of your gift has never used a smartphone, you should help set it up and help your loved one learn how to use it. It would also be a good idea to gift the same model that you currently use and be prepared to spend some quality time providing some hands-on training. For some ideas on useful apps, check out the Yahoo! list of the 10 Best Smartphone Apps For Seniors.

Tablets – Lightweight and portable, with easy-to-use touch screens in high definition or with super sharp Retina display, tablet computers are becoming more and more popular with older adults. Anyone can enjoy the ease of emailing, watching videos or scrolling through photos on these mini computers. To make the most of your gift, set up the user’s email account and WiFi access as well as pre-load it with some favorite book titles and useful apps, such as Skype. Make sure the gift recipient is comfortable using tablet technology before you leave them alone with it. Remember, you may need to set up a data plan for some tablets or you might consider adding the device as part of your wireless service “family plan.” Apple tablets are sold online, at an Apple Retail Store or like the other tablets, may be available through popular chains, such as Walmart, Best Buy or Staples. The most popular tablets currently available include the iPad, the iPad Mini, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Google Nexus and the Microsoft Surface

MessageQube – If all this new fangled technology is just too overwhelming for your parents or grandparents, never fear! The handy device allows your technophobe family member to receive text message and photos without using a computer or a smartphone. Simply plug in the device and SMS messages sent from any cell phone or through the free messageQube Mobile and Web Apps will be printed out in black and white on high-resolution thermal paper. Although outgoing calls cannot be made from the device, you will need to subscribe to a monthly data plan with Sprint to receive messages.

If none of these tech gifts are right for you, never fear! In Part 2 of this blog post, we will be covering a few more technology devices, such as e-readers, home WiFi networks and interactive gaming consoles. While these devices can be useful tools, spending time with your elderly loved one is always the most important gift of all!

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.