9 Gift Ideas for Nursing Home Residents
Items that Give Comfort
The most welcome gift for a resident in a skilled nursing facility is a gift of your time spent with them. If distance or work schedules prevent family members from visiting their loved ones 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.
Balloon Volleyball, a short 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 often rare but much-needed touch from another human being.
Games 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, coloring books, word games like Scrabble and card games like Rummy and Go Fish.
"I can't find my room."
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 that seeks a landmark in a sea of similar doors.
Framed Photos of the Family
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
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
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
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
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
Wondering about other items that your senior may need? These are a few suggestions for low-cost, useful gift items.
- House slippers are easy for arthritic hands to slip on.
- Marking pens to label clothing and personal items help when items go astray.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Craft and Sewing Projects that Your Family Member will Love
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 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.
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.
Questions & Answers
© 2017 Peg Cole