According to the National Center for Health Statistics 2005, about one and a half million people age 65 and older live in a nursing home. Family members and friends who aren't involved with the immediate placement of the residents may want to quickly show concern by sending a gift. So, what is the perfect gift to give?
Some Appropriate Gifts for Nursing Home Residents
While flowers and potted plants are attractive and bring a feeling of warmth, they often come in containers that are too cumbersome for the resident to move about the room. Before purchasing a gift, consider space, what your loved one will need, and more. Some practical and appropriate gifts for a nursing home gift include:
Buy a lap robe for under $25 from Buck and Buck. Elderly people often feel cold throughout the day. A lap robe actually ties around the waist to stay in place, and it has a pouch for holding things. This is a functional, comfortable, and thoughtful gift that doesn't just take up space.
21st Century Master Edition Board Game
Encourage socialization with the Reminiscing 21st Century Master Edition Board Game for under $26. The has 1,400 questions and over 6,000 clues on topics covering the 1950s to the year 2000. It is available on S&S Worldwide. The Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens reports socialization among seniors leads to a better quality of life.
A Walker Bag
Instead of a standard walker basket, give a walker bag to store personal items. Not only is it convenient, a bag encourages getting out of the room because your grandparent or parent is able to move about the assisted living facility with everything she needs.
Socks with Grips
For less than $10 a pair, socks with grips on the bottom can prevent a big accident by keeping your loved ones from falling. Feet get cold during the night, but if slippers aren't at the ready socks with grips can make all the difference.
Studies reveal participation in crossword puzzles by elderly people as a factor in the delay of memory decline. There are spiral bound books available for elderly people that want to fold back the book or even rip out pages. You can get a large print book with over 100 puzzles for just over $7.00 from Amazon.
An Essential Oils Kit
An essential oils kit with popular scents for just under $20 is a great addition to any room. Essential oils encourages a new interest while also promoting health benefits like relaxation, healing and soothing sore muscles. In a study of how aromatherapies affect dementia in patients, a statistically significant decrease in symptoms of agitation and depression occurred. If the application of oils directly isn't for the person you care about, you can also buy a diffuser from Amazon for under $20. A diffuser mixes essential oils with water and releases the scents into the air as a mist while also humidifying the room.
Hand lotion, like a classic Almond Coconut Milk Creme for $18 from Sephora, adds a touch of home but is a practical gift to show your love. Instead of choosing a standard formula, find an option that she wouldn't spend money on. Don't know how to choose? Try to select a formula to suit your loved one, like a gentle formula for sensitive skin or a flowery scent for fragrance lovers.
A nail polish gift set in classic colors for under $40 lends a bit of fun to life! The Shades of Berry Set from Sephora comes in colors that widely appeal to women with all preferences. You get five shades of reds and pinks and one bottle of a purple color. Just because your loved one is aging doesn't mean she doesn't want to be pampered or feel feminine!
Book of the Month Club
One of the biggest trends in gift giving is buying monthly subscription boxes. Great options for your elderly loved one is a monthly book or candy subscription. You can get a subscription to the Book of the Month Club for as low as $10 a month. If reading isn't a big interest for your loved one, there are other options out there like Candy Club. Subscriptions are just over $20 a month on CandyClub.com.
A pack of personalized handkerchiefs remind your loved one you care. For under $70, you get four personalized squares on Esty.com. These handkerchiefs come with custom notes which could be anything from a quote to a thoughtful sentiment. Handkerchiefs take up nearly no space but last much longer than tissues and serve as a keepsake.
A Window Birdfeeder
Add a bird feeder to the outside of your loved one's window. A bit of nature outside the window may encourage him to go outdoors. The Grateful Gnome has several bird feeders for under $30 that stick right onto the window. This gives your loved one access to birds right outside the window and it is easier to maintain.
Family Tree Quilt
Keep your loved one warm while helping him or her feel loved with a personalized family tree quilt for under $60. This blanket is 54'' by 36'' and comes with a tree, your family name, the option of adding names to leaves, and also the option of adding the year your family was established. This gift will not only keep your loved one warm, but it may spark memories and nostalgia as she looks at the names on the quilt.
A CD Player and CDs
Even though CD players aren't as common nowadays with younger people, stick with an affordable player and some CDs for anyone you know in a nursing home. (You don't need to introduce a new technology to a loved one when your only purpose is to give a gift). Try purchasing a mix of hit songs from a certain decade, like Casey Kasem's The 50s Hits for just over $15 at Barnes & Noble. Music is also a great conversation starter for a lonely elderly person looking for friends or for a meaningful conversation with a family member.
A wheelchair cushion adds everyday comfort to the life of a loved one. The ROHO Mosaic Air from Med Mart distributes weight evenly and has a three-inch pad. When sitting on a wheelchair, the cushion eliminates discomfort and even protects the skin. This cushion also comes with a 12-month warranty.
To prevent items from going missing, purchase a set of 50 It's Mine! iron-on labels for only $16 or 100 labels for $22. The iron-on option is effective for nursing homes because they cannot be removed from items easily. This practical gift just might be the best item you've ever given! (You might want to buy a bunch of labels for yourself).
The Gift of Your Time
Nothing can take the place of visiting your friend or family member in the nursing home. In fact, a study conducted by the Division of Geriatrics at the University of California found loneliness to be a predictor in negative health outcomes. The gift of time is a very enriching and appropriate gift for nursing home residents. Spending half an hour or even just a few moments will be a great experience for all. Even if your grandfather doesn't recognize you or is unable to voice his happiness at your visit, you will be grateful that you took the time to show your concern. Some benefits of spending time with the elderly include:
- Learning about the lives of people from other generations
- Helping an elderly person feel like a valuable member of society
- Exposing your loved one to the joy of being around children
- Showing your children every stage of life while learning patience and attentiveness
- Building memories with loved ones that may not be around too long
Senior citizens are valuable members of society and spending time in their environment is beneficial to everyone involved. The gift of time might be the most valuable gift you can give!
Things to Do in a Nursing Home
Don't know what to do when you visit the nursing home? Giving the gift of time to someone you loved also means you should do something fun together. Depending on mobility and other limitations, ideas for spending time together are:
- Completing crossword puzzles or word searches together
- Eating dinner together and meeting friends in the dining room
- Enjoying a homemade dessert you brought along
- Working on a project together, like a craft or puzzle
- Talking about family members or shared memories
- Getting details about other family members by sorting through old photos
- Writing down a life chronicle
- Playing board games, with family members or other residents
- Reading a book aloud together
- Listening to a podcast on a topic which interests you both
- Attending events together, like church services or planned entertainment
- Learning a new skill from your loved one, like knitting or crochet
- Going to the nail salon for a manicure or pedicure
- Listening to music and discussing memories associated with songs
Homemade Gifts for Nursing Home Residents
Include the younger family members in the gift-giving process. No matter what the age, there are numerous gifts for grandparents ideas that grandchildren can take part in. Here are some creative gift ideas to try:
- craft ideas for young children to try.
- Give the gift of a homemade pop-up card. Why give a plain card when you can make this awesome gift?
- Make an advent calendar for the holiday season. This way, your loved one is able to celebrate every day of the holiday season!
- Complete a craft together with an elderly person. For example, a grandparent can teach their grandchild how to knit and use simple patterns designed for beginners. Another craft to try together is a cross stitch bookmark. Not only is it a small item, it is also functional! This is a combination of a craft gift and the gift of time with a loved one!
- Take something useful, like soap, and create your own for an elderly family member. This is a functional gift that comes in handy to have as well.
- Put together a sugar scrub and then exfoliate your hands and feet! You could even make this gift along with your favorite nursing home resident.
Being Thoughtful Counts in Gift Giving
When it comes to giving a gift, it is the thought that counts. Consider the pastimes, hobbies, habits, and preferences of the person you know that lives in a nursing home. Once you find a gift, don't wait for a special occasion! Just bring the gift and it will brighten your loved one's day.