10 More Gift Ideas for Nursing Home Residents
What Do Nursing Home Residents Like?
What nursing home residents like most is the gift of your time spent with them. Your presence makes them feel special and valued. But when long distances or work schedules prevent you from visiting loved ones often, a thoughtful and useful gift is the next best thing. The question is, what do they want or need?
Many of the residents enjoy having a stuffed animal or doll to keep them company. This resident enjoys showing off the baby doll she carries along with her when she makes her rounds at the home.
What Games Do Seniors Play?
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, adult coloring books, word games like Scrabble, crossword puzzles, and card games like Rummy and Go Fish.
Dried Floral Arrangements for Doors
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 makes a great gift that serves as a homing beacon for the resident that seeks a landmark in a sea of similar doors.
Photo Books 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 scrapbook with the best of the photos from the dinner party reminds her of the event.
She shows the book to nearly everyone. Photos can help ease the loneliness of separation from family for those confined to a nursing home.
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.
Wall Calendars with Changeable Numbers
When the days become a blur as time passes, residents enjoy having a visible way to help them keep up 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.
Warm Cotton Jackets
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."
Wash and Wear Dresses with Pockets
Suitable Clothing Items
Finding suitable clothing for folks of a certain age can be difficult. When Aunt Louise first entered the skilled nursing facility at ninety-four, she was wearing pull on tops with matching Capri pants. Once she became wheelchair bound, she was less able to stand up without one hand on the handrail. That made dressing in pants difficult.
Finding dresses for her made things easier but she was particular about the style. She wanted a modest neckline large enough to slip on over her head with no buttons to fasten and side pockets for trinkets and tissues. The dresses needed to be wash and wear and made of quality fabric so they would hold up to frequent washings. We ordered several of the same style dresses in different colors from an online catalog with a generous return policy and she was delighted.
Comfortable Pull-on Slippers
10 More Ideas for Gifts
Wondering about other items that your senior may need? These are a few suggestions for low-cost, useful gift items.
- House slippers are easier for arthritic hands to slip on.
- Marking pens to label clothing and personal items.
- Quality hair brushes and combs are misplaced often and needed every day.
- Bendy straws make drinking easier for the bed-ridden patient.
- Seat cushions for dining room chairs are helpful for slender, tender bums.
- An eyeglass tether for around the neck helps keep track of reading glasses.
- Boost or Ensure helps the residents to get the proper nutrition when their appetite diminishes.
- A laundry basket is useful to store dirty clothing prior to wash day.
- A large-number telephone makes dialing easier for those with vision issues.
- Plastic cabinets from the Dollar Store supplement the limited drawer space.
Adding Drawer Space
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.
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.
Handmade Craft Items for Your Senior
Sewing a Walker Caddy
If you have the time and know how to sew, you can create a personalized gift for your loved one who uses a walker. This handmade pocketed walker fabric basket is a great way to carry around items like small notebooks, pencils, pens, and eyeglasses while using both hands to safely navigate. Follow the link for instructions on how 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.
Balloon Volleyball, a Short Video
Everyday Wants and Needs
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. With proper exercise, he is confident that one day he will walk again and be able to feed himself.
Not All Residents Are Elderly
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 often rare but much-needed touch from another human being.
What Residents Really Want Is You
If time permits, drop in and share a meal with your friend or family member. Stop by their favorite restaurant and pick up enough take-out for both of you to enjoy. A visit during meal time along with the pleasure of your company is one of the best investments you can make. Beyond the price of the food, they will benefit from your company and be recognized by their friends as someone who is loved.
Here's wishing you all the best as you keep your loved ones in mind and attend to their needs.
Questions & Answers
What are some games that elderly people might like?
Some of the folks like mentally stimulating games, like crossword puzzles, Scrabble, Sudoku (start with the easy levels to begin), picture puzzles, dominoes, and word association games. Visitors come to play card games like Rummy or Hearts, with their family members.
Check with the facility administrator and see if you're allowed to bring a pet along. One family brought their parrot during visits. Others brought small, well-behaved dogs. It really lifts the residents' spirits to see their beloved animals.
© 2017 Peg Cole