Making the transition into a nursing home is never easy for anyone. It is hard for the soon-to-be resident. And, also for their family.
When the holidays and birthdays approach, people naturally want to find a nice give to give to older family members who are being cared for. But, figuring out just what to give can be a serious challenge.
Here are the best gifts for people in nursing homes that will help make their experience a little bit easier to deal with.
Best Gifts for Elderly People in Nursing Homes
Even on my best days I’m not always on top of what day of the week it is or what the date is. That’s not likely to get better as I continue to age over the next several decades. This large clock/calendar is perfect as it shows the date, day of the week, time, and year all there at once to make it very handy.
I have had plenty of times where I just wanted a blanket or wanted to be a little bit warmer, even inside the house. A good electric heating blanket can bring that extra bit of comforting warmth that overcomes cool weather, bad circulation, or any other reason. This is a great gift that helps provide that nice comfortable and toasty relaxing feeling at home
Help revive a senior's old hobby or passion give your loved one the tools to take up a new one with this artistic kit. Doing creative tasks like this is good for better developing the more creative part of the brain. While challenging, it will help to teach a new skill, occupy their time, and give them something to be proud of.
Everyone gets cold but seniors especially do. If you know a senior living in a cold environment, consider a plush robe. These are always well-received. Try to make their lives a little more comfortable with a bathrobe. Many people suggest that a bathrobe be given with slippers. But, you have to take into consideration safety issues with slippers and the flooring the recipient has.
The Grandbox Premium Subscription Box that is sent out once a month. The deliveries coincide with important dates such as birthdays, major public holidays, Christmas, etc.
Grandbox deliveries are built around a theme and are often seasonal. The boxes include a range of gifts with items that are full sized, not fun-sized. Past boxes have included seasonal snacks, puzzle books, fall decor, calendars, and even an Elf on the Shelf!
Plus, Grandboxes can be deeply personalized. I love that you can even add 5 of your own photos and a personal note in each box! It’s a great way to keep long distance relatives involved and up to date along with some nice gifts!
These artisan scones are backed and shipped the same day for fresh flavor and taste. Plus each is unique because they are hand scooped too. Each scone is individually package so that fresh flavor can be maintained as long as possible.
You have lots of flavor choices and flavors are changed from time to time for some variety. There are gluten-free options as well as cookies and bars too.
Choose the subscription option for monthly or quarterly deliveries of assorted scone boxes right to your loved one's home.
This cool gift box features 2 lbs of candy that was popular in your selected decade packed into a gift box. Decade options include the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and the 1990s.
For the true candy lover, there is a 4 lb choice as well as a monthly subscription box option to keep the candy coming on a regular basis.
When people have limited mobility, many basic tasks, like tying shoelaces, can be a challenge. Thankfully, with these shoelaces from Xpand, it's possible to avoid tying your shoes. These laces can used with all kinds of shoes and consistently provide a great fit. A present like this could make for a great stocking stuffer.
With this gift, it's possible to use laptops, write letters, and even engage in crafts while sitting in a wheelchair. This lapdesk is comfortable to use thanks to the built-in cushion, which conforms to the shape of the user's lap. It's available in a range of styles and colors, allowing you to select the perfect style for the person you're shopping for.
Don't you hate it when you are trying to cuddle on your couch and your feet slip outside the blanket? This cool (but warm too) electric throw blanket has a foot pocket at the bottom. Just tuck your feet into the pocket and throw the blanket over the rest of your body and warm on up.
The Medium Boredom Buster Care Package includes: Word search book, Crossword book, Deck of cards, Wooden puzzle brain teaser game, Tootsie Rolls, Camouflage hackie sack, camouflage bandana, 2 Quaker Oaks Granola bars, Smiley face stress ball, Juicy fruit gum, Blank note cards with envelopes, Planters asst deluxe nuts, Chex mix, Oreo cookies, Combos Cheese filled pretzel nuggets, Kraft gift box
Many seniors can benefit from an Audiobooks.com subscriptions: from active seniors who like to exercise to elderly people who are homebound or even bedridden. Audiobooks provide hours of entertainment, education and enlightenment. Plus, they keep seniors minds busy as they pass the time.
This gift idea is a fun way to keep track of visitors and get some great stories along the way. Having a sign-in journal in their room encourages guests, family, and friends to leave notes, stories, and other keepsakes. I chose this one because it looks great and will lay flat and is made from natural walnut.
Everyone loves Burt's Bees hand care products - from young to the old. It's a great gift for senior men and women who suffer from dry, cracked, and painful hands including gardeners and travelers. This gift set includes 2 hand creams, a cuticle cream and a set of cotton gloves.
Storyboards are a great way to keep seniors updated with photos of their family and your lives. Simply upload photos and they will be converted to 8X8 photo boards that can be stuck to the wall. The best part? They don't leave any marks on the wall when removed so they should be nursing home or assisted living approved!
Magazine subscriptions provide a ton of benefits for seniors: education, entertainment, a way to pass some time. They can also be a great link to the outside world. Look for large print magazines like Reader's Digest for seniors with vision problems.
Mahabis slippers are unique because they are convertible depending on the environment you are in. The natural rubber sole is removable for indoor use or pops on quickly for a run out to the mail box. Supportive felt upper with 100% organic wool lining. Men's and Women's styles and sizes are available in tons of color combinations.
Sadly, when our senior loved ones leave us, their stories and history goes with them. This workbook encourages them to share this history with your and provides a place to record memories through a series of questions and prompts. It will quickly become a treasured heirloom for the family.
The Spa Wrap Slipper from Acorn pampers your feet while providing support and a flexible fit. The soft terry cloth fabric feels like velvet on the feet. But, these slippers also have a contoured footbed with an enhanced arch and heel for support and comfort. For swollen feet, the adjustable strap offers a custom fit and makes them easy to take on/off. Machine washable
A scrapbook is a great way to recall happy memories together. Include the crafts, stickers, and pictures to go with it, and it becomes a family activity that everyone can enjoy during visits. These scrapbooks can be filled with different themes, like pictures and keepsakes from a lifetime of birthdays, anniversaries, or travels. Larger sized books are ideal for seniors with vision problems too.
Scented gifts like lotions, in their favorite scent, can enhance memory and bring back fond memories. They are also a nice touch to have in the home.
Unless you know of a scent they specifically enjoy, stay away from bold, overpowering smells like heavy floral scents. Light aromatics, vanilla, and food smells are often the best choice. You can find some of my favorite lotions for seniors in this guide.
A gift like this provides cozy comfort that will keep your loved ones warm and comfortable. Warm afghans like these make for the perfect senior gift. Prone to cold more than in younger years, elderly people will appreciate the opportunity to wrap up tightly no matter the weather. I chose this one because it is super soft and large enough to cover up without being hard to manage.
An aromatherapy diffuser is a wonderful way to release a healthful mist into the air. This gift will transmit at various settings, so you can let it run for 6-8 hours with a tank of water. Anyone who lives in a home with a furnace or heating system that dries out the air needs a humidifier to put some moisture back into the air. And what better way to do that than with favorite aromas too.
When the weather is too cold or mobility is a problem, this at-home kit is an ideal solution. Trimming in-grown toenails and calluses can be dealt with from the comfort and privacy of the home. The kit has all of the pieces needed for a manicure or pedicure. Plus, it includes an instructional guide that explains when/where to use each of the attachments. An LED light is built in to see the nails better. Consider adding to this gift with a small set of nail polishes, nail polish remover, and toe separators so that they can paint their nails too.
This book reading light charges in a USB port so it can be plugged right into a tablet or kindle device while elderly owners are reading or working. There are multiple color modes and brightness levels including a night light setting. The best part is that it slips easily around the neck - no difficult to use clamps to cause pain for arthritic hands.
When the grandkids come to visit, have an engaging activity ready to keep them busy. Playing games is also good for a senior's memory, mental health, and socialization too. This particular game set is not only beautiful, with two reversible wooden tables, but it has drawers for storage built into it so none of the pieces get lost along the way. Play one of seven different games using just one set.
A beautiful piece of jewelry can make your loved one feel beautiful and pampered, especially if it has significant meaning. Find one that matches her style, or maybe take a look at birthstone necklaces if this is a gift for her birthday. Pick her brain a little and find out what her favorite stone is, and maybe get her a whole matching set (necklace, earrings, rings, and a bracelet) that features that stone. Pair it with a jewelry box.
For comfort and pampering, this therapeutic eye pillow is infused with lavender (one of the most relaxing essential oils),and adds a level of calm and relaxation to your loved one’s life. Having a weighted pillow rest on your eyes can provide a lot of relief, especially in this age of screens. This is an especially thoughtful gift for seniors with sleeping problems.
This set of greeting cards prepares your loved ones or friend for any and all upcoming events. They can write out cards for holidays, send letters of appreciation, condolences, or congratulations. Throw in a set of lifetime stamps while you are at it so that they can mail their cards when it's time. For forgetful seniors or those with dementia, fill them out in advance and hold onto them until it's time to mail them.
A great gift for an older adult who is a lover of great music, or even a tech-savvy relative, will truly appreciate a senior friendly MP3 player. Music can bring back positive memories, increase stimulation, and provide a chance to interact with those around them. Load it up with their favorite music before giving it to them. This easy to use model has simple instructions and a large easy to read screen.
Amazon Kindle is a reliable electronic reader that is available in many sizes and weights plus the fonts can be enlarged for easier reading. Set it up to have some of their favorite books ahead of time. Take it one step further and load an app like Skype onto a newer Kindle version so that they can sign in and chat with family when you are apart.
Wireless headphones will let your loved one enjoy their TV viewing, audiobook listening experience, or just shut the world out for a little while. These headphones fit right over the ear and cancel out the noise around them in an otherwise noisy common area. This model has a 30 hour battery life and can be synced to a wide range of devices via Bluetooth. Check out my guide to buying headphones for seniors and the elderly in this article.
General Gifting Advice for Nursing Home Residents
Gifts with Little or No Cost
Not every gift has to break the bank! In fact, creativity is more important than anything. Personal mementos go a long way for those living in nursing homes.
- If residents do not already have a large address book, for example, you can compile a list of their most common addresses in one place.
- Cozy gifts that remind them of home like a properly sized quilt or blanket for nursing homes in a pattern they love.
- You can enlarge a favorite family photo or a photo of the resident in their younger years and put it in their room.
- Customized items like coffee mugs or photo frames can remind family members and friends of their loved ones.
- Given the limited space and décor provided by nursing home facilities, small decorations can make a world of difference.
- Consider, for example, a beautiful vase with flowers that you refill each time you visit.
- If there is a tree outside their window, the nursing home might permit a bird feeder to be hung and refilled periodically.
- Air fresheners or flameless candle burners can give the space the comfortable feeling of home.
- Magazine subscriptions or Netflix subscriptions can help give them something to do.
That said, the gifts below are perfect ideas for making the nursing home environment seem a bit cozier. Some will encourage socialization too among friends within the community.
Practical Gift Ideas
Many people appreciate more practical gifts. They show you care and understand what her needs are. Here are a few examples:
- Stationary kits and stamps, especially for those who live far away from their family, are an interesting idea.
- Electric toothbrushes or personalized toiletry kits make for nice gifts.
- If your loved one or friend has a hobby they still enjoy, help keep them active by giving them the tools or supplies they need to engage in that hobby. Hobby based gifts are unique, a personal reflection on the recipient. They are also a chance for the person to feel good about their achievements.
- A small flashlight can be an accompanying gift to help them feel safer. There are even canes that have built-in flashlights too.
- Women who rely upon walkers to get around might benefit from a basket or bag that attaches to the walker. This gift makes it easier to cart around personal items from their room to common areas.
That said, below are 30 great ideas for tangible items that do not take up too much space and can be a beautiful way to say “I was thinking about you”:
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While tangible gifts are appreciated, what loved ones want more than anything is quality time with friends and family. If you are not much of a talker, you don’t have to visit your family member and make awkward, forced small talk for an hour.
- Schedule an activity for your visits, perhaps one associated with the gift you give.
- Volunteer to help out with events in the nursing home. So, that way, you give your friend or family member something to brag about to other residents.
- Read aloud to them during your visits or show off footage you filmed from family birthday parties or school performances they may have missed.
Tips for Giving Your Gift
- If you have them, don’t forget to bring the kids with you. Time with smaller children is always welcome.
- If family members are too far to visit regularly, sending recorded messages or stories can be listened to by elderly members over and over again. Letters, cards, even just to say “hello” and share something silly from the day can be sent throughout the year.
- If you have a family pet, you probably won’t be able to bring them into the nursing home. But when you bring their gift, see if you cannot arrange to have them meet you and the animal outside.
- Alternatively, give your gift on a small outing. Residents appreciate small trips outside of the nursing home, even if it is just to get an ice cream, see a soccer game, or walk around town looking at decorations.
Gifts to Avoid
No matter if you are buying gifts for seniors in nursing homes or who live with you, remember that this is a situation where less truly is more. Heavier or bulkier items will take up a lot of space they probably don’t have. And even small trinkets can eventually lead to clutter. Avoid incredibly expensive gifts on the off chance that another confused resident mistakenly wanders off with something that is not theirs.
At this stage in their lives, simple pleasures are the things that matter the most. And it will truly make them the happiest just to know that you care.
Do you have any gift ideas to add to this list? Have you given a gift to an elderly person in a nursing home that was loved? Or, maybe it went horribly wrong? Tell me about in the comments below!