Greeting CardsCostumesParty PlanningGift IdeasHolidays

More Gift Ideas for Nursing Home Residents

Updated on September 16, 2017
PegCole17 profile image

Peg Cole serves as caregiver and patient advocate for senior family members and others.

Items that Give Comfort

Norma loves to take her baby doll on her daily rounds at the skilled nursing facility.
Norma loves to take her baby doll on her daily rounds at the skilled nursing facility.

The best gift that a resident in a skilled nursing facility can get is the gift your time spent with them. When distance or work schedules impact the ability of family members to visit their loved ones, a thoughtful gift is the next best thing.

To keep them company many folks enjoy having a stuffed animal. This resident, whom we'll call Norma, enjoys showing off the baby doll she carries along when she makes her rounds.

Staying Active, a quick video by Peg Cole

Keeping the residents engaged and active can be a challenge. Activities that include hand-to-eye coordination and reaction time serve to stimulate residents.This game of balloon volleyball provides much needed attention and exercise for the wheelchair bound patient.

Wellness workers use this and other therapies like Aromatherapy and hand massages to engage patients and give them the much-needed touch from another human being.

Games Seniors Play

Seniors playing Dominoes
Seniors playing Dominoes

Residents often request games that stimulate the mind to remind them that they're still in the game. A nice new set of Dominoes is as welcome as winning a game against this resident's son-in-law.

Seniors also enjoy jigsaw puzzles, coloring books, word games like Scrabble and card games like Rummy and Go Fish.

"I can't find my room."

Dried floral arrangements to hang on the resident's door help them find their way home.
Dried floral arrangements to hang on the resident's door help them find their way home.

Did you know that one common difficulty in a nursing facility is the patient's ability to remember everyday things like their room number. It's not uncommon to hear a resident say, "I can't find my room."

This colorful dried flower decoration on the door serves as a homing beacon for the resident who seeks a landmark in a sea of similar doors.

Framed Photos of the Family

When names become a blur, a photo collection of the patient's family members may help.
When names become a blur, a photo collection of the patient's family members may help.

Space in a resident's room is limited. Counter tops are often used to hold medical equipment, cosmetics, books and other things leaving little room for framed photos or other keepsakes. Using the wall space to display framed photos of loved ones, pennants from favorite teams and other memorabilia is the way to go.

This photo arrangement was a gift from the resident's son who gathered up-to-date photos from each of his children with their kids, put them together in matching frames and artfully hung them on the wall where Great-grandmother could see them every day.

Shutterfly Hard Cover Photo Book

With a family as big as hers, it's hard to remember everyone's name. A photo book with names makes that task easier.
With a family as big as hers, it's hard to remember everyone's name. A photo book with names makes that task easier.

Visible Mementos of Family Members

For Mom's 90th birthday all her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren from around the world came to Texas to celebrate with her. Three flew in from Germany, others from North Carolina, New York, and Florida. A few weeks later she received a scrapbook with the best of the photos from the dinner party.

She showed the book to nearly everyone and later, when her memory of the event began to fade, it served as a reminder of the faces of her offspring. A photo album can ease the loneliness of separation for those confined to a nursing home.

Wooden Craft Calendar with Changing Days, Dates and Months

This perpetual calendar with changeable days, dates and months helps keep the resident in the present.
This perpetual calendar with changeable days, dates and months helps keep the resident in the present.

One resident was overheard saying, "An hour in this place is like a week." When the days turn into a blur as time passes, residents seem to enjoy having a visible way to keep them current with the day and date.

The changeable calendar pictured above comes with removable wood planks with writing on both sides. There are additional planks for special events like holidays and birthdays. This would be a great project for a student or crafty person to make. Similar items can be purchased online.

Favorite Items of Clothing

Seniors usually have particular needs and restrictions for their clothing based on tastes, preferences and suitability.
Seniors usually have particular needs and restrictions for their clothing based on tastes, preferences and suitability.

Finding Suitable Clothing Items Isn't Always Easy

When Auntie Louise first entered the skilled nursing facility at 94 years old, she was wearing cute pull on tops and matching Capri pants. As time passed, her ability to stand up diminished. To stand, she needed one hand to hold onto the handrail and found dressing in pants was difficult. She discovered that wearing dresses made things easier for her in a wheelchair.

Finding clothing for folks of that age can be difficult. She's particular about the neckline being modest yet big enough to slip on without any buttons to fasten. She prefers to have side pockets to carry trinkets and tissues. That combination of needs was met with this type of pull-on dress found in an online catalog.

Warm Cotton Jackets

Seniors tend to get cold easily in common areas of the facility. A lightweight jacket to match an outfit is always welcomed.
Seniors tend to get cold easily in common areas of the facility. A lightweight jacket to match an outfit is always welcomed.

Grandmas are sometimes cold natured when it comes to temperature in a room. When everyone else is wearing shorts, she's wearing a jacket. Temperature is easily controlled in a private room with its own air conditioner. But in the common rooms and hallways of a facility the air temp can be uncomfortably cold for some people.

A lightweight, washable jacket with a zipper rather than buttons makes a great gift that can be worn year around and washed often. This velveteen hoodie jacket is one of Auntie Lou's favorites. She and her sister own similar jackets and like to wear them on the same day. People at the home refer to the pair as "the sisters."

Gift Items that Residents Enjoy Everyday

House slippers and other common items are welcomed gifts.
House slippers and other common items are welcomed gifts.

Wondering about other items that your senior may need? These are a few suggestions for low-cost, useful gift items.

  1. House slippers are easy for arthritic hands to slip on.
  2. Marking pens to label clothing and personal items help when items go astray.
  3. Quality hair brushes and combs are misplaced often and needed every day.
  4. Bendy straws make drinking easier for the bed-ridden patient.
  5. Seat cushions for dining room chairs are helpful for slender, tender bums.
  6. Eyeglass tether for around the neck helps keep track of reading glasses.
  7. Boost or Ensure helps the residents to get the proper nutrition when their appetite diminishes.
  8. A laundry basket is useful to store dirty clothing prior to wash day.
  9. A large-number telephone makes dialing easier for those with vision issues.

Adding Drawer Space

Extra drawer space is always welcomed and this set of plastic drawers comes in handy in the bathroom.
Extra drawer space is always welcomed and this set of plastic drawers comes in handy in the bathroom.

Drawer space is at a premium in the facility where my mother lives. The built in chest only has five drawers to hold all of her clothing and personal items. The night stand has two smaller drawers for odds and ends like jewelry, hair brushes and assorted personal items. Adding a plastic set of drawers in the bathroom allows space for personal wipes, hand towels, toothpaste, denture cups, and shampoo.

Entertainment

Chris Lemoine visits the nursing facility every week to sing for the residents.
Chris Lemoine visits the nursing facility every week to sing for the residents.

Talented musicians share their time and gifts with the residents. A compassionate entertainer, Chris Lemoine remembers the names of those in his audience and caters his music selections to match their memories. He listens to their requests and learns new tunes from their feedback. Songs from their particular era tend to engage the listener and encourages participation in the musical event.

If you can play an instrument or sing along with Karaoke music, the residents will always gather to listen. Or volunteer to read stories aloud to the residents individually or in a group.

Craft and Sewing Projects that Your Family Member will Love

This walker caddy is made from a Simplicity sewing pattern
This walker caddy is made from a Simplicity sewing pattern

If you have the time and the talent to create a personalized gift for your loved one who uses a walker, this walker caddy is truly appreciated. It's hard to carry anything around when using both hands to safely navigate. This craft pattern allows items like notebooks, pencils and pens, eyeglasses and other small items to be carried around easily. Instructions are provided on the link to make this item.

Seniors benefit from daily exercise to boost morale, increase muscle mass and improve circulation. This video shows how one hospital is using simple means to benefit their patients.

Not All Residents are Elderly

This resident has  specific needs and a wish to fulfill them.
This resident has specific needs and a wish to fulfill them.

Everyday Things

This resident was injured in an automobile accident and remains paralyzed. After eight years, he's experiencing a return of feeling to his legs. His most fervent wish is to have a couple of able-bodied people help him get up and down to his standing frame to help stimulate his muscles.

He is confident that one day he will walk again and be able to feed himself. An article identifying his specific needs is in the works.

Bringing in a meal from favorite places
Bringing in a meal from favorite places

What Nursing Home Residents Really Want

Perhaps the best gift you can give is sharing a meal from your friend or family member's favorite take-out place. A visit during meal time and sharing the pleasure of your company while you eat is one of the best investments of your time you can make.

All the best to you in keeping your loved ones in mind and attending to their needs.

© 2017 Peg Cole

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 11 days ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Linda, Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and leave such a thoughtful comment. Cheers to you.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 13 days ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello dear Jackie, What a nice gift for your mom - a cuddly soft baby doll. Of course it matters when they are unable to vocalize or remember the names of their children. That is tragic and sad for us and for them in their private moments of reality. My heart goes out to you. My mom is in very poor physical condition right now - not eating - barely talking. It breaks your heart. God bless you and your family, too.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Mckbirdbks, Mike, thanks so much for coming by to read this and for your kind remarks. Seems like only yesterday that Mom celebrated her 90th birthday, yet it's been two years. Hope all is well with you and yours. I'm enjoying reading the stories in your new book, The Carriage Driver3 and can't help but think of them when I see the weathervane at the facility. Congratulations on another great publication.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an excellent article, Peg. It contains so many good and kind ideas for helping seniors. Thanks for sharing all of the suggestions.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Flourish, How sweet of you to give your Great grandmother a manicure. And sharing that treat with the other residents was so kind of you. The bright colors would truly be cheerful.

      They have free nail painting at this facility and the residents so enjoy being pampered. Thanks for sharing that lovely idea here.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello again Becky, Bunnies are so lovable, soft and fluffy. Included in my previous article about this topic were photos of the Visiting Dogs Association and the facility mascot, a golden retriever who comes to work every day with her owner, the Administrator. Ginger is well loved and known to all who live there. Her familiar bark makes them smile and say, "It sounds like home here." Last month, they brought in a miniature horse for the residents to pet and love on.

      I'm glad you were able to provide comfort to Dennis when he needed it most. Having a family pet visit is so important. My Mom asks about our dogs every time I'm there and tells me how much she misses them. Tony is over a hundred pounds and difficult for me to manage. Our other guy is a wild man and doesn't travel well. She tells me often, "I wish I had something to send home for the dogs."

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Maria, So nice to see you here. I asked Aunt Louise yesterday if she still played balloon volleyball. She said she hadn't in a long time. The activities program has changed a bit with new staff. The lady in the video always made sure Louise was rolled into the game and took a lot of care to include her. I will give her a big hug from you and one for Mom as well. Hugs

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Glenis, I loved hearing about your visiting dog. In my other gift ideas article there are photos of the visiting dog's association and the facility mascot, Ginger, a golden retriever. It's so true that the residents enjoy petting animals and having them visit. A couple of weeks ago they brought in a miniature horse! Thanks for the visit and kind comment.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      MsDora, thank you for dropping in and for the sweet comment. The video was taken a couple of years ago but Louise still loves playing balloon volleyball at 97.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Nell Rose, So kind of you to bring thoughtful gifts and necessities to your Mum when she was in a facility. The residents truly light up when they see they have a visitor. Thanks for coming by and for the great comment.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 weeks ago from The Beautiful South

      My mom had a hard bodied doll at the nursing home someone had given her that she just loved but because it was hard I found her a bigger soft one she could cuddle easier and she did love it even more. Even though she said my name over and over she did not know who I was but of course that did not matter. I know personally how true all you say is. I think warm clothing is an excellent gift and very soft to be comfortable.

      God bless you for what you do. (I am sure He does.)

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 2 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Peg - You have shared some good ideas, You also give us plenty of insight. Your family is such a strong unit. Coming from all over the world to share your Mom's 90th birthday just proves it. Flowers for the door is a great idea.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      You have helped a lot of people with these ideas. I like the puzzle and baby doll ideas particularly. When my great grandmother was in a residential facility many years ago, I would take a caddy with me to do manicures. I'd shape and paint her long lovely nails a hot pink or bright red or orange. It brought such joy that a few of her friends asked me to do it for them as well. It was a visual reminder that someone cared.

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 2 weeks ago from Hereford, AZ

      Peg,the nursing home Dennis was in had a bunny for the people to pet and cuddle. They were also allowed to have a pet dog or cat visit once a week. Unfortunately., Dennis was in a respiratory unit where pets are not allowed. Between allergies and hair contamination with tracheotomies, pets were not allowed in that unit. We could take the dogs with us when we went, but they had to be in public areas. They had several public areas, away from respiratory, as well as a couple of courtyards. We had to have enough people with us to keep someone out in a public area with the dogs. They also had a couple of hamsters and quite a few birds.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 2 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Peg,

      What a pleasure to come home from a weekend clinical rotation today and see your post.

      The video of Aunt Louise is awesome. She sure gave the therapist a run for her money - very coordinated ... :)

      The pictures of our sweet ladies are beautiful. And the gift ideas you share are spot on.

      Sending you, Mom and Aunt Louise lots of hugs, Maria

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Mary, Thanks for the wonderful comment and for your service to the population at the nursing residence of your in-laws. It takes a lot of heart to do that sort of work. I admire all the staff members who serve day after day in an environment that can be quite challenging emotionally and physically.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi James, What a pleasure it is to see you here. Yes, most of the photos are of my mother and her sister. Aunt Louise is the one in the video playing balloon volleyball. Mom is the one with the walker caddy.

      So nice of you to drop in and leave a comment. Thank you. Hope that you are well.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Dear Becky,

      It sounds as if you really had all the bases covered with your thoughtful gifts for Dennis. My friend Hal, pictured above, was telling me the other day how much he loved to play cards.

      The cork board is a great idea for capturing all the greeting cards and daily activities lists that are received. I also liked the idea of the slip on wheelchair back cover. Before Aunt Louise got a custom wheelchair, the plain seat was uncomfortable. We found that a tie on dining room seat cushion worked and was easy to wash.

      Again, thanks so much for the great comment and for dropping in here today. I know you miss Dennis so much. Hugs.

    • Glenis Rix profile image

      Glenis Rix 2 weeks ago from UK

      Lovely ideas. I especially like the baby doll. Old people often don't have anyone or anything to cuddle. My cousin was allowed to take her dog into the care home when visiting her mother and she loved to stroke it. I think that is an idea that more care homes should adopt.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      These are all very thoughtful, practical gifts. I especially love the calendar. Louise is impressive at 95.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 weeks ago from England

      Hi, what a great hub! I remember when my mum was in one, we were always taking her stuff in, and making sure they had entertainment etc. great idea for the doors, and yes a lot of the residents did forget their way! wonderful!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 2 weeks ago from Brazil

      Such wonderful ideas. I would never have considered some of the things on your lists. It is amazing to think that simple things such as the decoration for the door will help a resident feel more secure and not lost.

      The clothing choices I can understand and see how a lot has to be taken into consideration. The walker caddy must be a Godsend for residents who want to take items back and forth without having to ask a member of staff to do it for them.

      Many years ago, my in-laws had a nursing home and a residential home which I helped in occasionally. I wish I had thought more about how I could have made a positive impact on the resident's lives.

      Excellent article and full of good advice.

    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 2 weeks ago from eastern North Dakota

      A beautiful hub, Peg, thank you, and the lady in so many of the photos...your aunt?

      And Chris Lemoine--What a guy!

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 2 weeks ago from Hereford, AZ

      This is a wonderful article Peg. I took Dennis a stuffed bear for an anniversary gift. He kept it on his bed to remind him of me. They often used it to prop his hand up, when his hand was getting sore. They had a cork board for their personal cards and photos. I posted all of the greeting cards for him to look at and I got him 8x10 photos of each of the families of his kids. He could not play card games, because he had limited mobility in his hands. He only got out of bed for an hour or two, because he got so tired, so didn't need to have a bunch of clothes taken to him. I took some cotton leisure pants with cartoon patterns. They were elastic waist and easy for the staff to help him into. He loved them and all the residents loved his Daffy Duck pants. I took him some inexpensive holiday decor to put on his walls and he had a small nativity that we put on the top of the dresser, next to his TV. I made a custom seat cover for the back of his electric chair. He had complained that it made him feel sweaty. I measured and cut it to slide over the back and it fit like a glove. The seat came with a couple of washable covers and I coordinated the back. Then they all wanted one. I made a couple more for some of the others.