When you have a friend or family member who lives in a hospice or nursing home, chances are you are not sure what would be a good holiday gift. Whether the individual is coming home for a quick holiday visit or you will be visiting them at their room during the holidays, chances are you’re stumped at what to purchase for a holiday gift. Chances are, they have already indicated that a gift is not necessary, but you may still desire to give them a thoughtful token for the holidays.
Most times, nursing home residents have little space for trinkets or furnishings. Often gifts of food or candy are frowned upon, and items like scented candles are a dangerous hazard since many residents require oxygen as part of their care regimen. Here is a list of good holiday gifts for nursing home and hospice residents.
1. Board Games – From Checkers to Rummy, the gift of a game this holiday season is something you might consider for a preteen, but nursing home residents enjoy sharing these classic toys with other individuals who live there and visitors who occasionally stop by. Whether you buy an oversized chess set or a handheld Soduku, your gift of a game is certain to bring a smile. If your resident is suffering motor-skill challenges or vision issues, be sure to select a game with larger pieces, and be sure to keep in mind the fact that residents with dementia should not always be allowed to own items containing small parts.
2. Silk Plants – Silk plants liven up any room and require little care to keep them looking beautiful. They are preferable to live plants because they do not require watering, which can cause safety issues due to spills and reaching (for hanging plants), or direct sunlight, which might not be available in every room. In addition, silk plants will not attract bugs and can stay more sanitary than live plants, giving a room a cheerful, homey appearance without risking the danger of having spillable dirt indoors.
3. Rocking Chair – Most nursing homes and hospices mention rocking chairs on the very top of their wish list for residents, and for good reason. Rocking chairs are easier to get residents into and out of than most types of chairs, and they are very comfortable to sit in due to their relaxed design. Whimsical or pretty cushions and soft padding (Velcro only, no ties) make rocking chairs even more comfortable to sit in, and the fact that they are made of wood makes the rocking chair an easy cleanup favorite for residential home housekeeping as well.
4. Lotion – Consider the gift of lotion for a nursing home or hospice resident. Skincare is often a challenge with aging skin. An easy to pump lotion or skincare gift basket including lip balm is a thoughtful gift. Be sure to choose hypoallergenic lotions without heavy scents, and ask the residential home staff prior to giving such a gift. For an even more thoughtful present, include a box of tissues, some sunscreen (if the resident spends time outside,) a pair of sunglasses, and a large-print book.
5. Large Print Books or Magazine Subscriptions – Large print books allow for less strain on aging eyes and can be shared between residents. Consider making a nice set of bookplates to go along with the gift of reading materials with the resident’s full name and room number. That way, is someone borrows a book, they know where to return it. Magazine subscriptions offer a year’s worth of reading delivered to their room with the mail. Choose fun magazines like National Audubon, Travel, and other exciting publications that show our colorful world.
6. Throw Blanket – Perfect for use on a wheelchair, a cotton throw can be both functional and beautiful. There are literally dozens of throw blankets in both fleece and cotton styles available online. These blankets are preferable to a bulky bed blanket because they are smaller and fit on wheelchairs and rocking chairs much easier. Consider a throw that displays a favorite hobby, faith, or subject.
7. Wall Clock – A lovely wall clock is a great gift for any nursing home or hospice resident. Consider models that are not noisy, that have colorful designs, and large easy-to-read numbers. Clocks are a thoughtful gift because many nursing homes have special activities for residents. A gift clock, which does not look institutional like the typical room clock, would be a great way for residents to stay on schedule for music sessions, craft opportunities, and other activities.
8. Jigsaw Puzzles – Easy to store and with so many varieties, easy to buy, the jigsaw puzzle is a gift that many nursing home residents enjoy. Puzzles help keep minds sharp and busy, and they are an activity that residents can do together. Consider thicker pieced puzzles with fun designs, and select puzzles based on the resident’s abilities. For residents with good motor skills, an 1000 + piece puzzle might be a fun challenge, but for those dealing with muscle issues including arthritis, consider a 500 piece or fewer puzzle.
9. Stationary and Greeting Cards – What better way for your resident to keep in touch than with the gift of pre-stamped stationary, greeting cards or satire essay. A basket of decorative paper, envelopes, and pens is a nice sentiment for residents who love to write. Consider including a “loaded address book” full of the addresses of family and friends, or a set of pre-addressed stickers for certain individuals they often write to so they can just peel the “To” name and address sticker for quick addressing of stationary.
10. Wall Hangings – What better way for a nursing home or hospice resident to create a home out of their room than with a decorative wall hanging? Wall hangings can be purchased in many styles and colors to coordinate nicely with any room. Consider decorative items in the resident’s favorite colors and subjects. Wall hangings are a preferred gift for residents because they don’t take up the space that trinkets do, and they can’t be as easily dropped or misplaced.
When purchasing a gift for a nursing home or hospice resident, be sure to ask staff about the home’s guidelines and restrictions. After all, it’s important to follow the rules of the residential home when selecting a gift for a resident. Never forget that the gift a nursing home or hospice resident wants most is time with family and friends. Be sure to commit to visiting whenever you can, and volunteer to help with activities if possible. Happy Holidays.