Answer: It doesn’t matter where you live or how old you are-there’s nothing like a cheerfully wrapped present to brighten your spirits. Residents in nursing homes present some unique challenges in gift-giving, so I’ve created a list that’s received the “seal of approval” from those who work in nursing homes. And my guess is they would make any resident feel special during the season. As you go through this list, consider what it would be like if you and everyone who reads this decided to go out and buy just one extra gift and drop it off (or mail it) to their nearest nursing home to be given to a resident without family or friends.
Gifts to brighten up their room
Picture frames, plants (live or silk), paintings, a calendar marked with birthdays of family members, artificial gold fish bowl or water fall, sun catchers for the window, framed pictures of resident in the earlier days, a collage of pictures of families and friends-these make great conversation pieces-or an all-season wreath or decorative knocker to hang on their door.
Gifts for pampering
Basket of lotions and talcum powder (be sure to check with the nursing staff on what’s best), shaving lotion, favorite perfumes, luscious bath towel and/or robe, gift certificates to the in-house beauty parlor or barber for their hair styling and manicures, grooming products.
Gifts for having fun
Buy a very simple-to-use DVD player and send new movies every month every month and videos of family events, large print books, a simple-to-use CD Discman so they can listen to their favorite music without disturbing roommates, low-vision playing cards, large print crossword puzzles or other games appropriate for their cognitive ability, a box of all-occasion greeting cards with a book of stamps, a digital picture frame, stuffed animals.
Gifts for staying warm
Lap afghans or fleece throws are very popular, cheerful holiday sweaters, sweat suits, no-skid slippers, fun socks that depict the holidays or interest of the resident (e.g. golf, flowers).
Gifts that touch the heart
Hand-made gifts, a framed poem or artwork from grandkids or from you, phone cards to stay in touch and pre-pay long-distance calls. The most cherished gift, however, is a visit from you. If the resident is able, you might offer to take him or her out for an evening ride to enjoy the holiday lights, along with a hot cup of cocoa. And one last idea: make it a New Year’s resolution to volunteer at your local nursing home or assisted living facility. A friendly visit to a resident without family is a gift that will make you all the richer for it.