5 Worst Tech Gifts for Seniors (and What to Give Instead)

Some expensive tech gifts for seniors might seem fantastic, but could cause frustration, upset, or become household hazards
Date published: 2021-11-15

Technology gifts don’t always work out as planned

Technology has brought many wonderful conveniences to everyday life. 

Of course, we want the people we care about to benefit from these comforts and innovations too.

However, there are some expensive tech gifts that may seem like fantastic ideas, but after further investigation, turn out to be terrible gifts for seniors.

These gifts could cause frustration, upset, or might even become household hazards.

To help avoid these pitfalls, we’ve rounded up 5 worst technology gifts for seniors and share suggestions for what to give instead.


5 worst expensive technology gifts for seniors

1. The latest smartphone
Today’s smartphones can do so many amazing things. They keep us connected and entertained as well as make life easier and more convenient.

Of course we’d want to share those benefits with the older adults we care so much about – a new smartphone would be a fantastic holiday gift, right?

But many seniors prefer to keep things simple and stick with what’s familiar. If your older adult falls into this category, giving them the latest smartphone probably won’t be a good fit.

For example, learning how to use the latest smartphone will be tough for someone who isn’t tech-savvy. 

There will be too many bells and whistles for someone who isn’t familiar with the technology. Most likely, they’ll get frustrated, won’t want to learn to use it, and just stick it in a drawer somewhere.

Better options
What might work better is to get them a simpler smartphone, flip phone, or specialty phone in order to give them the key benefits of staying connected and being able to call for help when needed.

Some suggestions:

  • GreatCall Jitterbug Smart3 – a smartphone designed especially for seniors, it has added emergency and safety features as well
  • GreatCall Lively Flip2 – a flip-style mobile phone with large buttons and a large screen, it has added emergency and safety features as well
  • RAZ Memory Cell Phone – a dementia-friendly mobile phone with a single-screen that never turns off, this is a picture-based cell phone that someone with cognitive impairment can actually use


2. The latest tablet device
Similar to the latest smartphones, the latest tablet devices are wonderful for staying connected and for entertainment. That makes it seem like a wonderful, useful gift.

But these feature-packed tablets also have lots of bells and whistles that your older adult would need to navigate in order to find the things they care about – most likely, video calling with family and friends and looking at photos.

Better options
Instead, consider simplified tablets, video-based devices, or photo-focused devices because those are the features that your older adult likely values most.

Some suggestions:


3. Robot vacuum cleaner
Everyone loves clean floors, but it takes a lot of regular vacuuming to make that happen.

To save time and energy, many people have turned to robot vacuum cleaners to help them get the job done.

These can be a great solution – but they do require set up and maintenance.

If you were to give a gift of a robot vacuum cleaner to an older adult, they might not be willing or able to do what’s needed to keep it running.

For example, these robot vacuum cleaners use an app for setup and scheduling. They also need to be emptied regularly.

Plus, the floors must be kept relatively clear in order to let the vacuum do its job. And if they get stuck, a human needs to pick them up and get them going again.

With technology, there will always be glitches or times when a device needs to be reset, restarted, or reprogrammed (in the app). 

If you’re not living close by and able to step in whenever help is needed or when maintenance is needed, a robot vacuum might not be a good idea.

And in some cases, it might even become a tripping hazard if your older adult somehow doesn’t notice it as it moves across the floor.

Better options
Instead, consider a gift of regular vacuuming by doing it during your regular visits, enlisting a trusted friend or family member to regularly help with vacuuming, or hiring a regular house cleaning service for them.


4. New flat screen “smart” TV and/or streaming service
Chances are, your older adult’s TV is an older model so you might think they’d love the gift of an upgraded flat screen with the latest features.

It’s true that a new flat screen will be beautiful, but a new TV will be very different to operate than the one they’re used to – they’re typically much more complex.

All the new TVs are “smart,” that is, they’re connected to the internet and many have a variety of apps and services.

They do offer a lot of entertainment choices, but sometimes it’s too many. And navigating all these menus and options can be frustrating, even for the most tech-savvy of us.

To go along with the new TV, you might also want to get them a subscription to Netflix, Hulu, or another popular streaming service so they’ll have thousands of shows to choose from.

But many older adults enjoy watching the same TV shows they’re familiar with and aren’t as interested in exploring new shows.

Better options
Instead of a fancy new TV with streaming service, consider getting them something that enhances the form of entertainment they enjoy using most. 

Some suggestions:


5. Smart home appliances
Technology innovation has given us smart home appliances like lights, heating/cooling system controls, electrical plugs, toasters, refrigerators, coffee makers, and more.

If you or another trusted person lives near enough to set things up, regularly check on things, and fix any issues that might come up, it would be wonderful to automate their household appliances as a thoughtful gift.

For example, you could set the heat to automatically come on an hour before your older adult wakes each morning and the coffee pot to brew 10 minutes before they have breakfast.

You could put indoor lights on a schedule so they automatically turn on before it gets dark. And you could monitor the contents of their smart refrigerator so you’d know when to restock certain groceries.

However, if something stops working or goes haywire, your older adult would likely have no idea how to fix it or even get the appliance to work again. 

For example, you wouldn’t want them to be without certain lights or without heat/cooling when they need it because nobody is available to fix the issue.

So if you’re not able to help with any issues as soon as they come up, it may be better to skip these smart home gifts.

Better options
Instead, consider these helpful “low tech” gifts that also make everyday life better:


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team


This article wasn’t sponsored, but does contain some affiliate links. We never link to products or services for the sole purpose of making a commission. Recommendations are based on our honest opinions. For more information, see How We Make Money.

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