In some ways, giving a gift to an 80-year-old is like giving a gift to anyone: Think about the person's hobbies and preferences and find the perfect item to meet those interests. But 80 years is a milestone occasion, and your 80-year-old friend or family member probably has special needs to suggest the kind of gift you might give. If possible, deliver your gift in person to give a gift of yourself as well as something material.
Many people in their 80's have limited means to travel and might not go shopping as often as they would like, so new shirts, blouses, sweatpants or compression socks are gifts they might not be able to get themselves. If your budget allows, give a comfortable chair with lifts to help with getting in and out. A newspaper or magazine that commemorates the year of birth is the ultimate personalized gift.
Spending time with your friend or relative on his birthday can cheer him up no matter what his circumstances. Take him out for a stroll in the park, visit him for a birthday game of chess or go to a movie or concert together. If you don't live in the same city as he does, give him a gift of someone's else's time, freeing him from household chores. Pay in advance for a housecleaning service, yard work or window washing.
Food or beverage gifts always fit and never need dusting. Bring her a batch of scones or muffins with a jar of jam, or give a membership to a one-time or monthly fruit, soup or dessert-of-the month club. If you live in the same city, take her out to a restaurant or prepare a meal basket with everything she needs to prepare a simple meal. If necessary include gadgets to help her cook, such as a jar opener for people who have limited hand strength.
For an 80-year-old with health problems, give objects to help with the tasks of everyday life, such as a grabber device to help reach items, a magnifying glass for reading or a sound amplifier if he has a hearing loss. Many older people have trouble staying warm, so an electric throw blanket to use while watching TV is useful and decorative. A carved cane functions in the same way, as a necessary device and an attractive accessory.
Technology gifts come in more and less complicated varieties; you may need to spend time helping your 80-year-old friend or relative learn how to use a new tablet or music player. Other tech gifts -- such as an electric toothbrush, picture frame with rotating photos, an aromatherapy diffuser or a sunrise clock -- only require being plugged in.