When someone moves into a nursing home, their lifestyle changes, and they no longer have as much space as they used to. This means your old standby presents may no longer be appropriate or useful for a nursing home residence and, therefore, your gift-giving strategy needs to change. If you need some inspiration for your end-of-the-year shopping, we have put together a list of our top gift ideas for nursing home residents, from nursing home clothing to bird feeders.
If your loved one is having problems with dexterity or arthritis in their hands, doing up buttons on traditional clothing can be hard for them. Giving them some self-dressing adaptive clothing can help them maintain a level of independence even though they are living in a nursing home. For instance, a pair of elastic waist pants will help them undress quickly to use the restroom when the need arises, while house dresses for women offer an entire outfit in a single piece of clothing, no closures required.
If your loved ones need help getting dressed or undressed, assisted-dressing clothing will make the process easier for both them and their caregiver. Wheelchair pants are open-back pants that can be put on while they are in a sitting position or if they are lying down. Meanwhile, open-back tops eliminate having to put anything over their head; instead, simply put their arms through the holes and fasten the snaps in the back. And if your mom or loved one wore dresses all their lives, open-back dresses are the perfect transition item to help her feel put together yet still comfortable.
Slip-Resistant Shoes and Socks
In long-term care and retirement residences, slip-resistant footwear must be worn at all times for fall prevention and safety of the residents. If your loved ones don’t already have a pair of slip-resistant shoes for swollen feet, you should definitely get them a pair so they can stay safe and comply with nursing home rules.
Look for a pair that is made of soft fabric with Velcro closures so they will be comfortable to wear all day long and can be adjusted as needed. If their feet have grown since the last time they bought shoes or they are experiencing a lot of lower body swelling, you may need to go up a size or switch to a wide fit shoe. It’s best to measure their feet before purchasing just to be on the safe side. That way, the shoes won’t pinch.
You might also want to consider getting them some slip-resistant socks that they can wear at night so they don’t have to hassle with putting on shoes in the middle of the night. The socks come with rubber grips directly attached to the bottom, giving your loved one extra stability while they walk. They will also keep your loved one from losing heat through their feet while they sleep, so they stay toasty all night long.
If your loved one has a mobility aid, get them gifts that will jazz up their own walkers or wheelchairs. Not only will these additions make their wheelchairs and walkers more organized, but it will also help to set them apart from others in the facility.
For example, a wheelchair pouch is a nice addition to their walker or wheelchair. This way, they have a place to keep their daily essentials, such as eyeglasses, keys and wallets. A wheelchair organizer will keep everything within arms’ reach while keeping both of their hands free for maneuvering around.
If your loved one tends to run cold, then consider getting them a wheelchair blanket. These blankets have snaps where you can attach the blanket to the arms of the wheelchair so that it will stay in place as they move around.
If they want a bit more coverage than that, wheelchair clothing like a wheelchair cape might be the solution. This is a jacket with one wide opening at the top that you can put over the person’s head instead of having to wrap it around. This cape is designed to avoid getting caught in a wheelchair, so it is higher at the back so the recipient can sit comfortably in a wheelchair while wearing the jacket.
You can also help your loved one personalize their wheelchair or walker through making a custom name tag or decorating it with gems, paint or other craft items. If you are looking for a gift for a grandparent, this could be a fun craft to do with them, especially if you get the grandkids involved.
A Comfortable Blanket
Even if your loved one isn’t in a wheelchair, a regular blanket can be a nice cozy decoration for their room while keeping them warm and cozy on cold days. Get them a nice fuzzy blanket that’s their favorite color or which has a favorite animal or sports team logo on it. This is a great way to make them feel more at home while keeping them warm during the winter season.
Essential Oil Diffuser or Air Freshener
Long-term living facilities tend to have a certain smell, so nursing home residents are sure to appreciate something to make their rooms smell better. Getting an essential oil diffuser can let them make their room a bit more like their own and cover up other odors. Many oil diffusers come with calming essential oils, which can help to alleviate stress in addition to creating a pleasant scent. If oil diffusers are not allowed, then consider getting your loved one an air freshener that does not require heat or power to work.
A Digital Photo Frame
There is a lot of downsizing involved in moving into long-term care since a whole house now needs to fit into a room, and years of photo albums will probably be too bulky to store in their space. Holding a heavy photo album and turning the pages can also be very difficult for people with arthritis in their hands or weak muscles.
A digital photo frame takes up minimal space and allows them to look at the photos without having to turn any pages. Ask to borrow the physical photo albums and scan all the images onto a drive and move it on to a digital photo album that can be uploaded to the frame.
A mini fridge can be very helpful for a loved one in a nursing home since access to the communal kitchen fridges may be restricted. This way, they can bring leftovers back and eat them later if they ever go out for lunch with the family, and they can also keep beverages and snacks of their own in the fridge without worrying about someone taking them. Just be sure to verify that the facility allows personal fridges before splurging on this gift for nursing home residents, and also double check the dimensions to ensure that it will fit in their room.
Puzzles & Games
Puzzles and games give your loved one a reason to connect with other residents when you aren’t there, as well as an activity that you can do together when you go visit. Having a two-person game like chess will give them something to do with other residents in the nursing home, as well as something to do to keep their brain sharp. Puzzles are great as a calming exercise, lightly working the brain.
If you are buying for a parent and have kids, get a game that you know your kids love playing so they can play it with them when they visit. You can also consider adding in a puzzle or an activity book that they can do solo, so they have something to occupy their time when they don’t have anyone else to play with.
Hobbies give your loved one a sense of familiarity and purpose, not to mention keep their hands busy and help them pass the time. Encourage your loved one to keep up with whatever hobbies they can by buying them supplies and also signing them up for classes if they are up to attending.
Unfortunately, moving into a nursing home can make certain hobbies difficult to practice, especially if they take up a lot of room with bulky equipment, so you might need to encourage them to make a switch to a related hobby. For instance, if they previously enjoyed woodworking and carpentry, then they may enjoy switching to whittling instead.
Moving Storage Cart
A moving storage cart gives nursing home residents a dedicated place to put knick knacks and clutter. Whether it’s the TV remote, an extra pair of glasses or their Kleenex, it can be a nice place for storage items that are used often. Make it even easier for them by giving a model with wheels on the legs. This allows them to move the cart from their reading chair to the bed, depending on what they are doing, so they don’t have to constantly get up and walk to the cart.
Many seniors love birdwatching, which can be a hard habit to continue once they move into a nursing home. If they can’t go to the birds, then you can bring the birds to them by installing a bird feeder outside their bedroom window. Much like the mini fridge, you will need to clear this idea with the nursing home prior to installing it. However, if they give you the go-ahead, this gift will provide hours of joyful birdwatching fun without your loved one having to go anywhere. Be sure to periodically restock the bird feeder with food whenever you visit, and try to choose a squirrel-resistant design so they don’t steal all the feed before the birds can get to it.
Many elderly people grew up handwriting letters, and continuing the habit can be a great way to stay in contact with loved ones. Give them a set of all the necessary stationery supplies they need to stay pen pals with friends, including paper, envelopes and pens. Don’t forget to provide them with stamps, and make sure that you periodically restock their supplies so that they don’t run out. And if your loved one sends you a card or letter, be sure to write them back in a timely fashion!
Nursing rooms aren’t exactly known for their homey decorations, and they can often feel quite sparse and unwelcoming. You can help remedy the situation and make your loved one feel at home by decorating their room with wreaths, flowers, wall art, banners and other cute items. You can choose more evergreen decorations or go with a seasonal theme that you update through the year.
If you plan to switch up the decorations throughout the year, make sure that you have somewhere to store them in the off season, whether that’s at your house or in a storage unit — most retirement home bedrooms don’t have excess room for that kind of thing.
We hope that this list helps you find the perfect gift for your beloved nursing home resident. If you are looking to order them adaptive clothing, we offer a wide variety of styles for both men and women at the Silverts online store. All U.S. orders get free standard shipping, and U.S. orders over $100 get free rush shipping, so don’t be afraid to stock up! Also be sure to check out our blog, where we offer lots of resources on everything from caregiver burnout to questions to ask at a nursing home tour.