Savvy Tech Gifts for Seniors

There’s always a reason to give a thoughtful gift. If you have a senior or two on your shopping list, how about something different this year? Consider a technology gift for today’s savvy seniors instead of another box of fancy soap or aftershave.

A Web Cam Means Happy Grandchildren

Give the grandparents the gift of visual and audio interaction with their children and grandchildren. If Grandma and Grandpa don’t live next door, they’ll love seeing and speaking with their grandchildren via a Webcam. Most of today’s webcams have a built-in microphone and may bbe optimized for Windows Messenger or some other IM system. With prices (at Amazon) varying from less than $30 to almost $300, there is a cam for every budget.


While some seniors may be able and willing to install their cams and discover how to use them independently, others may require assistance. Include installation and a few lessons as part of the gift in the latter case.

A Web Cam Means Peace of Mind

A wireless network camera could save the day in special circumstances. For example, Panasonic’s BL-C131A Network Camera Wireless 802.11 is promoted as a camera that lets you monitor your pets, property, or even children when you are not home.

You can set up the camera anywhere without needing a local PC. Then, by logging on to a specially designated Internet site, you can check the room from any PC, Internet-equipped cell phone, or PDA. You can also modify the camera’s pointing direction and its digital zoom via the Web browser. The camera has a built-in microphone and a special night-view mode.

Consider this camera’s application in the case of a senior who lives alone and may be in frail health. If you have ever frantically phoned Granddad’s neighbors to please check on him to be sure he’s OK, you’ll appreciate the peace of mind this product could provide. With Granddad’s permission, you could set up the camera in his home and log on whenever you were concerned that he could need help, for example, when he was not responsive to phone or e-mail messages. At close to $300, this wireless camera is among the more powerful products of its kind available.

Rather than a Webcam, you might also consider the QuietCare System, a healthcare system designed to help seniors live independently. This system uses activity sensors to learn Granddad’s normal activity around his home. When the system notes a change in pattern, it notifies a call center or sends an e-mail alert or text message to a designated party.

Computer Glasses Aren’t a Pain in the Neck.

Does the computer-savvy senior in your life wear bifocals, trifocals, or progressive-lens eyeglasses? These glasses are not optimized for viewing a computer monitor. When wearing such glasses at the computer, Grandma has to tilt her head backward to focus on the screen while looking through the lens’s bottom part. To put it mildly, this gives her a big pain in the neck.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Grandma will enjoy her computer time more if you spring for prescription computer glasses. Contact your friendly optometrist and ask for details. Be sure to ask your eye-care specialist about glare-resistant lenses, which are also very important for computer users.

Keep Grandpa in the Loop With a DVD Player and Slide Show

Do you want something extraordinary for the senior in the family who is shut in or living in a continuing care facility? How about a small, portable DVD player and a special family slide show disc? Contact the extended family members and ask for old and new digital pictures. Compile your collection; turn it into a PowerPoint or Microsoft Plus slide show! Burn SuperPack for Windows XP or some other slide show software to a DVD. (If using PowerPoint, you must include the free PowerPoint viewer on the DVD).

Remember to add titles and captions to each picture so Grandpa knows what he’s looking at. You might also shoot some video, edit it, and send along a video production that your senior can watch in the privacy of their room.

Portable DVD players range in price from $30 to a couple hundred dollars. You must be sure that the machine you choose can play DVD+R/RW. Otherwise, there will be only disappointment when your home-recorded DVDs don’t play.

You could also include a few of Grandma or Grandpa’s favorite movies with this gift. Like the Webcam described above, your senior might appreciate some instructions on how to use it.

VoIP Means Affordable Long-Distance Calling-Anywhere

Are family members spread across the globe? If so, VoIP providers such as Skype, Vonage, and others allow seniors to stay in contact without worrying about astronomical telephone bills.

Give your senior a microphone with a headset (starting at around $20) or a special Skype phone. Make sure that Grandma has helped with the Skype software installation, which can be tricky. Provided all parties have a Skype account, Grandma can talk with anyone, regardless of where they live, free of charge, using the microphone or the Skype phone. If she plans to phone someone using a landline phone, buy her a Skype credit or two, costing about $14 each. Rates per minute vary depending on location. For example, a Skype call from Canada to a landline in Israel costs about $8 for thirty minutes.

An iPod Means Music, Audiobooks, and Newscasts-Anywhere!

Consider giving Grandpa the gift of portable music and newscasts. With an iPod or similar device, your senior doesn’t have to miss their favorite newscast or other show while walking around the neighborhood.

Audiobooks are particularly appreciated if your senior has difficulty reading due to failing eyesight. You might consider adding a gift certificate from iTunes or a service like, for example, along with the media player. At, you pay $7.49 for the first three months, then $14.95 afterward. Your senior gets one downloaded audiobook per month, chosen from the searchable database of around 40,000 titles.

iTunes similarly offers many choices, including movies, television shows, music, audiobooks, and podcasts. If your senior isn’t familiar with podcasting, be sure to introduce him to it.


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.