We’ve officially entered the season of gift-giving. Out of all your family members and friends, gifts for grandma can be the toughest. Sure, you could get her a sweater or pair of slippers, and she’d appreciate the kind gift, but that’s no fun.
Instead, you should get her something a bit more techie.
I’m not talking about the most advanced gadgets, either. We’re going to look mostly at devices that will add convenience and safety to lives of the elderly. And these gifts can be just as useful for Grandpa, too!
No, I’m not telling you to go out and hire someone to answer your grandparents every whim, I’m talking about a digital assistant. And when it comes to such devices, there’s really only one name that’s repeated: Alexa. Well, there’s Siri and Google, but those work through a phone (which we’ll get to in a bit), but the Amazon Echo serves as a standalone device that’ll fill Grandma in on whatever she wants to know. If you want to know more about the Echo specifically, we have plenty of articles on the subject:
Aside from the Echo, the major player is Google Home. It’s newer than the Echo, and hasn’t been put through its paces quite as much — but it does promise many of the same features. Most important among these, it can answer questions, keep track of tasks, and play music with voice commands.
Getting a phone for your Grandma is something that can be both fun and lifesaving. Now, it’s going to be up to your discretion to figure out what kind of phone is right for your grandparent. You need to feel them out for how averse to tech they are (if at all). My grandma, for example, was happy to get a cell phone when they started rising in popularity, but when smartphones became affordable, they were just too much for her. Heck, my dad is only 55 and he still uses an extremely basic flip phone that can barely do text messaging. Your mileage will vary here.
When it comes to basic flip phones, your options are fairly limited. Most of the profit for device manufacturers and carriers comes from smartphones. However, there are some choices, still. The Samsung a157 with AT&T’s Go Phone prepaid service is available for around $50, and it comes with a solid 4-star rating. There’s also the more poorly-reviewed (and more expensive), Jitterbug Flip Easy-to-Use Cell Phone for Seniors. Consumer Cellular specializes in prepaid plans for older individuals, and it offers a couple models in the $30–$40 price range.
Regarding smartphones, you probably already have a good idea of what you like. I recommend going with something similar to what you use, just to make it easier to help your grandparents figure it out. If you own an iPhone and you buy them a Samsung device, you might have a hard time answering their questions about an OS you don’t use. If you want to keep things affordable, BLU Products offers several models on Amazon in the $50 range, such as the BLU Advance 5.0, the BLU Studio X8 HD, among others.
Note: BLU Products recently eliminated a major security flaw in its phones.
Again, it’s hard to really recommend a specific model, as that’s a bit beyond the scope of this article, but you should check out some of our more general smartphone buying guides for further guidance:
- Which iPhone Is the Best for You?
- Which Smartphones Have the Best Battery Life in 2016?
- What’s the Best Phone for Dad?
One Touch Emergency Calling Device
If do the research, and you can’t find a smartphone for your grandma, here’s an alternative: an emergency calling device. These only require a single touch, so even the least tech-savvy grandparents will be able to use them. While it’s not necessarily the most fun gift in the world, there really isn’t any gift more fun than saving your grandparent’s life.
Amazon offers a well-reviewed model called LogicMark Freedom Alert Emergency System [CA]. It goes for around $170, but the kicker is that it doesn’t require monthly fees. It has a 600-foot range from the base, and support for five different phone numbers. It seems like a solid device, with a 4.3-star rating and an “A” rating from FakeSpot, meaning it has over 90% high-quality reviews. There are plenty of other services that offer similar features, but most of them charge a subscription.
Digital Photo Frame
What better gift is there for grandma than photos of the family? With a digital photo frame, you can load tons of photos and change them over time as new stuff happens. Baby born? Give grandma some new photos! New dog? Add those too! Amazing vacation? Yup, put them in there.
As for models, there are quite a few. The best-selling one on Amazon is the NIX Advance – 8 inch Hi-Res Digital Photo Frame with Motion Sensor [CA/UK] for $59.99. If you want a bigger one, there’s also a 12-inch version (UK). Another well-reviewed one is the Pix-Star 10.4 Inch Wi-Fi Cloud Digital Photo Frame (UK) for $149.99.
Whichever model you choose, you can be sure of one thing: It will keep changing and evolving over time. You might even say it’s the gift that keeps on giving. You might say that, but I probably wouldn’t.
As a 30 years old, I certainly don’t fit into the category of a grandparent, but I’d like to tell you a quick story anyway: about a year ago, I lost my car keys and didn’t have a backup key. I spent hours searching every nook and cranny of my house, without success. The next day (after missing lunch with my mother and an ice hockey game in the evening), I found them buried in my sofa, in some crevice known only to God.
The point is: I went straight to Amazon and bought a Tile Tracker. I’ve lost my keys at least 5 times since then, and I’ve found them in seconds every time. Amazon has the latest model, called Tile Mate, for $25 (£23). It’s the perfect gift for the elderly (or anyone who loses stuff, like the relatively young author of this very article).
This device requires a Bluetooth device to work. So if you’re in the situation where your grandparents are reluctant to get a smartphone, you’ll either have to pass on this one or use it as a selling point to convince them a smartphone will change their lives for the better!
If you’re reading MakeUseOf, I probably don’t need to explain what a Kindle is. With the Kindle specifically, there are a few models to choose from. On top of the Kindle, there are a slew of other e-readers out there.
Starting with Amazon’s devices, there’s the All-new Kindle, which is Amazon’s fancy name for the base model. This comes with a starting price of $79.99 (£57). From there, it jumps to the Kindle Paperwhite at $119.99 (£105), the Voyager for $199.99 (£170), and the Oasis at $289.99 (£270). Also, Amazon will often offer discounted refurbished models, which could be a good way to go a model higher for a bit cheaper.
Outside of the Kindle itself, there’s also the NOOK line from Barnes and Noble, and the Kobo line to consider. While both lines remain solid reading devices, it’s hard to beat the Kindle and the range of models it offers.
Make Your Grandma Happy!
Now, when you get your grandma the best holiday present ever this year, make sure to let her know that Dave from MakeUseOf gave you the genius ideas! Okay, just kidding, you can take all the credit on this one!
Are you going to get your grandma one of the gifts outlined above, or do you have a better idea? Share in the comments!
Image Credits: Ruslan Guzov/Shutterstock