Gift ideas for nursing home residents

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CHICAGO””With the holidays soon approaching, people will be spending hours at their local stores to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones, young and old. If you have an elderly relative or friend in a nursing home, it can sometimes be challenging to choose the right present for this individual.
To make this shopping process easier, the Illinois Council on Long Term Care, an association of nursing home professionals, offers the following list of holiday gift ideas for nursing home residents. The Council advises readers to take this gift list with them when shopping at their local stores.

Holiday gift ideas for nursing home residents include the following:

  • Stationery, note cards, greeting cards, pens and stamps.
  • Calendar for 2007 with dates marked on it for upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, etc. For birthdays, mark down how old the person will be on that day; for anniversaries, the number of years together.
  • Address book with addresses written in for family and friends.
  • Cardigan sweaters, sweat suits, pajamas and ladies’ housecoats and dusters.
  • Firm shoes with rubber soles; enclosed slippers.
  • Clocks with large numbers
  • Radios, CD players, tape players.
  • CDs of a loved one’s favorite music, such as songs from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s.
  • TVs and DVD players.
  • DVDs of favorite TV shows from years past such as I Love Lucy, The Jack Benny Show and All in the Family. Also, favorite movies such as Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon.
  • Magazine subscriptions, such as Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Time, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, etc. Also, large-print magazines such as Reader’s Digest.
  • Books in large-print editions.
  • Electric razors, disposable razors and shaving cream.
  • Checkers game, chess game and decks of cards.
  • Large-print crossword puzzle or word find books.
  • Brushes and combs.
  • Handheld mirror or magnifying mirror on a pedestal.
  • Hand lotion and facial tissues.
  • For the men: boxer shorts, V-neck T-shirts and socks.
  • Framed family photographs.
  • Cologne, perfume or after shave.
  • Gift certificates to the facility’s on-site beautician, barber or gift shop.

Readers should also know what types of gifts are not appropriate for nursing home residents. These elderly individuals usually have arthritis and need items that are easy to put on and take off. Consider purchasing clothing items that are easy to wear, such as jogging suits and cardigan sweaters.

Also, because of swallowing difficulties and restrictive diets, readers are advised to not send food items such as candy, cookies and fruit. If a nursing home resident has Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, do not send liquid items such as perfume, cologne, after shave or lotion, as these may end up being swallowed.

Unfortunately, some nursing home residents have no family or friends. The Illinois Council encourages readers to consider “adopting” a resident at a local nursing home, purchasing this person a special gift for the holiday. Readers should check their yellow pages for the phone numbers of local facilities. Pick one and call, asking to speak to the home’s activity director. He or she can assist in “adopting” a resident and choosing the perfect holiday gift, so that this individual will not be forgotten.

What is the best gift to give a nursing home resident? It is the gift of one’s time. These residents greatly appreciate visits from family and friends. Readers should plan visits to the nursing home during the holidays, and bring along the grandchildren and great grandchildren to add to the experience. Be sure to also make visits throughout 2007 to help an elderly family member or friend feel recognized, valued and loved.

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