11 Thoughtful Gifts for Elderly People in Nursing Homes

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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 cares for. But, figuring out just what to give can be a serious challenge. 

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.
  • 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.
  • Cozy gifts that remind them 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.


Apple iPod nano 16GB Blue (7th Generation) Latest Model

A great gift for an older adult who is a lover of great music, or even a tech-savvy relative, will truly appreciate an iPod . Research indicates that music reaps positive impacts on seniors. This is especially true for those battling memory loss or who are far away from their family. Music can bring back positive memories, increase stimulation, and provide a chance to interact with those around them. Go one step further and pre-load the iPod with their favorite music. You can expound upon this gift with a speaker dock to go with it, That way friends in the nursing home can enjoy the music too. Look for easy to use models that most seniors can use even when alone.

Electronic Photo Frame

Micca 8-Inch Digital Photo Frame With High Resolution LCD and Auto On/Off Timer (M808z)

A digital photo album  is a fun way to load up family photos and set them on display. Rather than having space for just one or two happy photos, you can add or change the pictures on display in concurrence with major events or holidays throughout the year, assuming your loved one wants this. They could even use a camera to take some of the photos themself.


Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa, 7' Display, 8 GB, Black - with Special Offers

Amazon Kindle is a reliable electronic reader that is available in many sizes and weights. The owner has the freedom to enlarge the fonts, change the styles, and otherwise make adjustments to their liking. If the gift is going to a parent, you might consider linking it to an account that you can pay for as a long-term gift (so that they can make purchases of books or music). Conversely, you can 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.

Food Items

Snack Lovers Gourmet Treats Gift Basket

Gift baskets can be easily ordered online and shipped to seniors in nursing homes. Inside, you can customize the contents to include the senior’s favorite cheeses and meats, jams and crackers, cookies, and more.

You can order themed baskets  too, like a movie night themed basket. You could send a copy of their favorite movie with it so that they can watch and snack at the nursing home with some of their friends. The bigger the basket, the more food there will be to share with other residents.

If you cannot find a basket with a theme you like, get a customizable basket which let you pick and choose food items. You can sometimes add things like mugs, movies, stuffed animal bears, and more.

Wireless Headphones

COWIN E7 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Bluetooth Headphones with Mic Deep Bass Wireless...

Wireless headphones will let your loved one enjoy their TV viewing or audiobook listening experience. With high tech wireless headphones , seniors can cancel out the noise around them in an otherwise noisy common area. Some have flexible ear hook designs that are comfortable and stay in place.

These newer options have the longest battery life so the owner can, for example, listen to 8 hours of music before they need to charge. Bluetooth abilities mean you can link the headphones to a phone or kindle. That way, seniors can make calls to loved ones and turn up the volume as much as they need.

Pay for a subscription to a service like Netflix to go alongside the wireless headphones so that they can enjoy access to classic films, the latest documentaries, and more.

Check out my guide to buying headphones for seniors and the elderly in this article.

Craft Kits

Silhouette CAMEO 3 Starter Kit Bundle with 5 Kits, 24 Sketch Pens, and Project Guide

For elderly residents, having activities like a craft kit  can make a regular afternoon into a fun, social event. Such gifts can be shared with friends in the nursing homes and give an opportunity to engage with others. This might be an ideal gift choice for a resident who is new and in need of ways to make friends.

Visitor Journal

American Made Hardwood Keepsake Journal, Visitor Register, or Guestbook with Coptic Binding, 6'x 9',...

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 can encourage guests, family, and friends to leave notes, stories, and other keepsakes.

This particular design  is bound with a hand-sewn ancient Coptic method of bookbinding so that it will lay flat when it is open. Made from natural walnut, the book is a place for visitors to leave daily comments, or to keep track of personal musings.

All-Occasion Greeting Card Set

Hallmark All Occasion Handmade Boxed Greeting Card Assortment (Pack of 24)—Birthday, Baby,...

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 straight from the nursing home.

Reading Lamp

TaoTronics TT-DL16 Stylish Metal LED Desk Lamp, Office Light with 5V/2A USB Port, 5 Color Modes, 6...

Not all nursing homes come fully furnished with the daily accessories that we so often rely on. Reading lamps  fall into that category. This design charges in a USB port if necessary, so it can be plugged right into a tablet or kindle device while elderly owners are reading or working. There are different color modes as well as brightness levels. It also has a timer setting, night light settings, and a “favorite” function that lets users save their favorite color/brightness settings.

Toiletry Set

Bath and Body Skincare Luxury Spa Gift Set for Women, Tropical Milky Coconut Beauty Gift Basket,...

This toiletry set  will put standard nursing home toiletries to shame. This kit is presented in a natural wood liquor caddy and has shower gel, bath butter, bath salts, body scrub, bubble bath, and lotion. These toiletries have essential oils that are ideal for keeping skin healthy and soft, something that becomes even more necessary with age.

Quality Time

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.

senior woman receiving a gift at the nursing homeTips 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!

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