Santa is making a list and checking it twice. What about you? Are you working on a Christmas gift list? Do you need help selecting the perfect for gift for a friend or loved one who lives in a nursing home?
Before you rush out the door or click over to your favorite shopping website, here’s a helpful list of gift ideas from experts who work in Alabama nursing homes.
Home décor for a nursing home resident’s room
“These items don’t need to seasonal because they’re used all year long. Think of items like pictures, bed spreads, throw pillows and curtains. This creates a more homelike environment in their room. Making their room personal helps them adjust to new surroundings and feel settled at their new home. It also gives them a sense of belonging.” – Ina Brown, Activity Director, TLC Nursing Center, Oneonta
Seasonal door hangers
“It brings cheer to their room, and it’s the first impression when someone comes in their room. Few people may know this, but a seasonal door hanger helps orient a nursing home resident to the current season. This is very helpful for those who have memory deficits.” – Kim Allred, Social Services Designee, Hanceville Nursing & Rehab Center, Hanceville
“Some residents have trouble remembering their room. If they have a door hanger, you can remind them their door, for example, has a Christmas tree on it and then they’re able to easily locate their room.” – Ina Brown
Candy, treats, snacks, chewing gum, and mints
“Just like you and me, residents like to snack between the meals, snacks and beverages we serve at the nursing home. Also, certain types of candy remind them of childhood memories which may brighten their day. Soft candies are a good choice because they’re easier to chew. Sugar free candy is a better choice for people who have diabetes.” – Endya Gibbs, Social Service Director, Cherry Hill Rehab & HealthCare Center, Birmingham
Costume jewelry such as bracelets and necklaces
“It’s best to get bracelets that stretch and are easy to slip on and off their arm. Necklaces need to be long, so a resident can lift them over their head to remove them. Clasps can be difficult for many nursing home residents because their fine motor skills have diminished. You want nursing home residents to be able to do as much as they can independently. Being able to put on and take off jewelry gives them independence and allows them to make decisions about their appearance.” – Ina Brown
Slip resistant tennis shoes and bedroom shoes
“It’s important to note that many nursing homes require these types of shoes. Slip resistant shoes help prevent falls and are safer for residents to wear. Also, look for shoes with Velcro tabs. Many residents can no longer tie shoes due to diminished fine motor skills or arthritis. This enhances the individual’s independence because they’re still able to put on and ‘tie’ their shoes. Plus, Velcro stays put. Shoe laces often come untied which can become a trip or fall hazard.” – Shonda Young, Activity Director, Bill Nichols State Veterans Home, Alexander City
Fleece hooded jackets and warm up suits
“These are popular and worn year-round. With age, the skin changes and individuals become more ‘cold natured.’ These items are comfortable to wear, keep residents warm and are considered stylish.” – Shonda Young
Homemade bags for walkers and wheelchairs
“Here’s what you may not know about the bags that residents hang on their walkers and wheelchairs. They prevent residents from falling. For example, a resident carries something in their hand, drops it, bends over to pick it up and then falls. With a bag on the wheelchair or walker, important items are close at hand and much less likely to be dropped.” – Ina Brown
Still not sure what you should purchase?
Just ask your loved one or their caregivers at the nursing home.
“Make sure you personalize the gift for who will receive it’” Ina Brown advises. “Are you buying this for a man or woman? What are their likes and dislikes? What do they need? What do they want? Taking time to buy the right gift will make all the difference.”
You can also give gifts to nursing home residents as part of a faith-based or community project. Many nursing homes will allow you “adopt” a resident or several residents. Simply call or visit your local nursing home for more information. (Click here for a list of Alabama nursing homes.)
“Many nursing homes have wish lists or know residents who need Christmas presents,” Shonda Young said.
Editor’s Note: Each individual interviewed for this story serves on the Alabama Nursing Home Association’s Activity & Social Service Auxiliary Board of Directors.