Moving a loved one into a nursing home can be an emotional and challenging time. As a physical therapist who works closely with the elderly, I often get asked what good gift ideas are for nursing home residents. The transition can be difficult, but letting your loved one know you still care deeply about them through meaningful gifts can help ease the process.
As both a doctor and son of two parents living in care facilities, I have some insight into great gift ideas for the senior in your life whether it’s a birthday, holiday, or just an impromptu “thinking of you” present. When considering gifts, it’s important to keep in mind aspects like safety, specific facility guidelines, usefulness, and sentimental value.
Here are 12 of my top gift ideas for nursing home residents:
1. Photo Albums and Frames
Pictures capture memories and let your loved one surround themselves with moments and people that have meaning. Great ideas include:
- Digital photo frame preloaded with family photos
- Custom photo album chronicling their life, family, career, etc.
- Collage picture frame allowing space for many photos
- Photo blanket depicting family images they can snuggle with
Make sure any glass follows facility safety guidelines. Get nursing home staff input on appropriate picture frame hangings.
2. Large Piece Jigsaw Puzzles
Jigsaw puzzles are a favorite nursing home activity for keeping minds sharp and busy. Choose easy to grip, large piece sets up to 1,000 pieces on topics your loved one enjoys like landscapes, animals, flowers or classic art. Arrange with staff to mount completed puzzles for display.
3. Playing Cards and Large Print Word Games
Great for passing the time alone or socializing, options like large print playing cards, bingo, dominoes, word search, crossword puzzles etc. make useful gifts. If vision is an issue, bold colors and large formats are key.
4. Audio Books and Music
Hearing is one of the last senses to decline. Audiobooks allow your loved one to enjoy reading a favorite author or genre without straining their eyes. Download a collection of their preferred music or “best of” compilations to listen to. It is great for lifting spirits and possibly improving cognition.
Weighted blankets provide comfort through gentle pressure that can relax the nervous system. Often used as therapy for anxiety, stress or insomnia, a weighted blanket is welcome in an unfamiliar nursing home room. Pick a weight based on body size and therapeutic benefit.
6. Massage Tools and Lotions
Gifting gentle massage tools like back scratchers, foot massagers, and essential oil lotions can provide pain relief and comfort. Make sure the massage tools have soft ends for safety. Lavender and other calming scents may help promote sleep.
7. Robes and Slippers
Ward off chills in style with a cozy robe and slipper set. Consider details like:
- Absorbent terry cloth robe
- Non-skid slipper soles
- Easy to launder fabrics
- Vibrant colors and patterns
Having familiar personal items can ease a transition to facility living.
8. Adult Coloring Books and Pencils
Coloring is a relaxing, nostalgic activity shown to reduce anxiety. Adult books have intricate patterns to engage their mind. Stock up on pages, coloring pencils, and pencil grips. Add a coloring calendar for displaying finished pieces.
9. Plants and Flowers
A bright bouquet instantly livesns space and mood. Potted plants allow for nurturing and responsibility. Ensure they are non-toxic varieties. Try easy-to-care for succulents or African violets. Arrange for plant maintenance if your loved one has mobility issues.
10. Travel Books
For seniors who can no longer explore on their own, travel books offer armchair adventures and beautiful photographs. Select destinations meaningful to your loved one like places they’ve visited or dreamed of going. Add a magnifying glass for detail.
11. Luxurious Blankets and Throws
We all love a cozy blanket, especially in a facility that may keep temperatures cool. Choose ultra-soft throws and blankets in atop weight. Give a specialty version like faux fur, cashmere, textured knit, or pashmina. Consider a large enough size to nap under.
12. Stationery and Stamps
Written letters and cards have become rare. Surprise your loved one with monogrammed stationery, note cards, envelopes and book of stamps. This allows them to hand write letters to keep in touch with family and friends. Add a nice pen with ergonomic grip.
The key is finding gifts for nursing home residents that provide comfort, spark nostalgia, reduce stress, or fill free time. Involve the care staff for gift guidelines and ideas tailored to your loved one’s interests and abilities. With a little creativity, you can find meaningful presents to make any senior smile.
If you need help with senior care placement, reviewing local facilities, or have therapy questions, don’t hesitate to contact my office. Providing guidance to families of aging adults is an important part of my practice.