Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!
Making up some gift bags of items for people in a nursing home is sure to brighten the day of anyone receiving this thoughtful gift. This is a guide about gift bags for seniors in nursing homes.
Some nursing home facilities provide small gifts on Father's Day for their residents. Choosing something that will be appreciated and enjoyed can be challenging. This is a guide about Father's Day gift ideas for nursing home residents.
A lovely thought, for you or as a group activity, is to bring Valentine's Day gifts to residents of a nursing home. This is a guide about Valentine's Day gift ideas for a nursing home.
This is a guide about nursing home gift basket ideas. Fill your gift basket for a friend or family member in a nursing home with useful and thoughtful gifts.
This is a guide about gift ideas for seniors. As family members and friends get older, they tend to want less material things as gifts. People have years of accumulated things and are starting to downsize their possessions and living space.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
I need gift ideas for an invalid nursing home resident.
Kim from Oak Hill, WV
My grandma was in a nursing home. Here's what she liked. Cookies, crackers, and candy(check with the staff first to see if there are any dietary restrictions). Most older people like to keep in touch through writing so some stationery, a box of greeting cards, stamps, and some pens would be nice. Older people often have problems with dry skin, they use lots of chapstick and heavy duty skin lotion. If your friend can leave the nursing home how about an outing? A movie or a drive around (maybe to look at Christmas lights?) would be appreciated. Grandma loved it when I brought her fresh flowers. When I walked through the community room with the flowers the ladies faces would light up and they would oooh and awww. Books, magazines, crossword puzzles are popular, too. From what I saw most patients had given away the personal possessions they didn't want and really don't care about knick knacks, artwork and so on.
1) SUPER-SOFT FLEECE LAP BLANKETS. My friend makes them & the folks (both male AND female) go crazy for them! These soft, warm blankets are perfect for those in wheel chairs. Lap blankets are smaller than "regular" blankets (about 24 x 30) so they can be washed easily (PLUS this way you can get 2 from one yard of fabric) and don't put fringe on them as it only gets tangled up & in the way. Fleece is "double sided" & won't fray, so no need to hem or finish the edges. But for fun: Why not embroider a flower, their name or crochet around the edge?... Write me on ThriftyFun for directions.... Fleece lap blankets are perfect to keep the wheel chair bound (& everyone else too) warm & cozy!
*** Berber or Fur fabric can also be used for the lap blankets, just be sure it can be washed & Dried easily because a lot of the super soft "Poodle Fabric" sheds & totally FILLS up the washer, plus it ruins EVERYTHING ELSE that's in the machine with it... (I learned by experience!) <*grin*>
2) BOOKS ON TAPE: you can either buy one OR better yet, go to the library monthly & pick up 5 or so, then exchange them every month...
3) HOME COOKED GOODIES: Home cooked food...Healthy Banana bread (or whatever) can be made with NO sugar, (for diabetics & others.) either by using "Splenda" brand sweetener OR better yet, by using fruit concentrates (like frozen concentrated canned apple juice) for sweeteners. Any fats or oils can be substituted with apple sauce instead...Extra sweetening & extra calcium can be added by adding powered milk to the dry mix. (not for those with "lactose intolerance") These healthy Banana type breads are as tasty as can be!... Food like this is a reminder of "home" & when they were younger...
I have spent the past several years working in nursing homes, so here's my two cents:
*Anything soft and comfy (blankets, pajama pants, sweats, slippers or nonskid socks) is usually well appreciated.
*Almost any consumable item (snacks allowed by their diet, body wash or lotion, shampoo--find out their favorite brands) is a good idea because storage space is limited.
*A newspaper or magazine subscription for someone who can still read is a gift that will keep giving all year long.
Finally, please remember that what most people in facilites appreciate most is you time. Every year at Christmas, we see more family members and groups coming in to visit. Residents like to have visitors all year--not just during the Christmas season.
I worked in a nursing home for well over ten years and the most inexpensive gift you can give is your TIME AND LOVE.
I too love old folks, and worked taking care of them for most of my life. All your ideas are great. I was a bit surprised to not see one here, so here it is! You need two washcloths, pretty; lay one atop the other; roll the edges of the first to meet in the middle; then roll the outer edges of the second, to meet these edges; fold in half, putting a bar of soap (if using unscented try glycerin in pretty colors, then fold it up like a satchel; hot glue 2 handles, made of paper twist ribbon, then any pretty decoration;they are very pretty and liven up a bedside table, and get lots of admiration, which gives seniors a chat, too!
Have you tried A Hug From Blanche? They hand knit shrugs which could be the perfect gift for your elderly relative who is sitting up and may be in a draft, or who just needs to feel "hugged".
My husband is in a nursing home, and I now have friendships with many of the residents. Here are a few ideas that have proved popular in my experience:
- Personalized cards for birthdays, Christmas, or just Thing of You -- personally delivered.
- Pretty little doo-dads for ladies
- Snacks, as permitted. I know who likes what and try to carry a bag with a variety to give out.
- Hats. Ladies and men like them. I do fishing hats for the men.
- Handshakes. People like being greeted as if they're human beings rather than patients.
- Compliments. I tell all the ladies how pretty they look and try to compliment them on something specific -- a new haircut, a pretty shirt. You can tell the men how dashing or spiffy they're looking.
- Stuffed animals. You'd be surprised at the people who end up loving them.
- Videos on topics of specific interest to a resident.
The following ideas involve your time, which is more important than anything else to nursing home residents.
- Games. Play cards, hangman, tic-tac-toe, checkers, even charades... whatever games the person likes.
- Reading. My husband loves to be read to.
- 20 questions. Arm yourself with questions to ask and give the person lots of time to talk. Questions about his.her experiences are always winners.
- Grooming. ladies like to have their nails done. Light massages are nice. Just slowly brushing someone's hair is much-needed attention and physical contact.
- Music. If you play an instrument, try doing it room by room for those who are room-bound. There's a lady who does this at my husband's NH and the residents just love it.
- Silly games. This Little Piggy Went to Market with people's toes is popular with those whose minds have become more childlike.
- Playing ball. Men especailly love tossing a ball back and forth.
- In nice weather, rides outside in wheelchairs. In poor weather, do it inside. Stop to talk to others, look at and talk about bulletin boards and decorations, read menus, etc.
- Pet visits. Check the NH's policy, but residents just love, love, love visits from puppies, rabbits, even ferrets.
- Deliver and read mail. Talk to recreation directors.
- Art. Take a child-size easel on wheels and some water paints. Anyone who can hold a paint brush can create something.
- See what sort of games and equipment the rec department has. They often have stuff they've forgotten about that you can put to use.
Finally, one thing I see residents eat up is just being around other people having normal conversations. Invite a few people at once and just hang out in rooms gabbing. The resident may not participate but he'll still love it. it makes him feel connected to the real world and included among regular people.
I volunteer at our local nursing home and I know first hand how difficult it can be when people bring in food. A little advice from me would be...(don't bring in food unless you know for sure that the resident(s)can have it) do something else such as bring in a pet, but make sure that you talk to the administrator or bring in games to play. Residents love to here people sing so you could make a binder with familar songs such as hymns that they remember. You can always just pop your head in and say hi. They LOVE to see people.
Just give them love! God bless you and I know the resident will love the visits.
The majority of nursing home residents can no longer see well enough to read, but I found one gift that delights them all. Visiting an antique store during a trip once, I found old magazines from the 40's and 50's and even as early as the 1920's. I bought a stack of them for my Mom, who is also a resident, and she was completely delighted. She can't see well enough to read, but looking at all the old ads took her back to a time of great happiness in her life. She enjoyed many hours of happiness looking through those old magazines.
I have just begun a nursing home visitation program near my home doing room to room visits. I am hoping to find craft instructions to make silk flower corsages for the ladies with pins they cannot harm themselves with. I think that will be a big hit as well.
Visiting with the elderly is highly rewarding and though you go in thinking you will bless them, often is it you who leaves feeling blessed.
I really need input ASAP. I work at a nursing home and I really want to make the holidays extra special for all. Not everyone has family so not everyone gets a Christmas gift. I want to get something for everyone. I was going to get a big screen T.V. but the nursing home just bought one. I will be raising the money and I will guess an amount around $800-$900. Please give any ideas. I am looking for one big gift if possible but any input would be great. Thank you! Melissa
Melissa from PDC, Wisconsin
i think that idea posted of the "old time movies and favorite stars " is a wonderful idea! ebay sellers often list those old classics in lots. and sometimes the video store have old movies they sell on a table for $1.00 each. they would love actors like Jimmy Stewart, Betty Davis, John Wayne. You could even have mens night & ladies night movies. other thoughts are a buying the old music tunes from there days gone by and play them aloud through a intercom for all rooms to hear or even get the bible on cd stories to play the same way. You could ask the staff to do this on certain days at certain times. Music is soothing especailly the kind they use to listen too. You could ask there familes of each person what type music or singer they use to listen to in years years already past so you could have a varity. And not everyone that age can read the bible or get the chance hear it read to them, so the bible on Cd played would give them that joy as well. What about investing in good books to from long ago and have appointed days that you come read to them in groups. your very thoughtful to want to bless them with your gift of giving no matter what you pick.
My grandmother was in the coolest nursing home. They had large fishtanks with beautiful fish. The nurses would park the people in wheelchairs in the hallway for a little while so they could look at the fish and talk to one another. Also so they could watch the visiting children ooh and aah at the pretty fish. These were very large, beautiful tanks like you might see in a seafood restaurant but with colorful small fish. The other awesome thing they had in the halls were super fancy handmade bird habitats. The bird enclosures looked like china cabinets. They were nice wood and glass and there were nests in there made out of some kind of natural fibers and the birds slept in the nests that were attached to the back wall of the cabinet. I think the guy that built them also maintained them but I'm not sure. I think most people love animals. Maybe you could see about getting some rabbits and put the hutches in a common garden area outdoors. I think hummingbird feeders outside the room windows is a good idea too. First you have to think about how people live before they have to go to a nursing home and then try to make it as much like home as you can. Just as a side note maybe you could invite moms to bring their babies in to visit with the older folks. People like to look at babies and same with dogs. Ask the local shelter to bring some well behaved small dogs over for a visit. Everyone loves furry animals! Those are my thoughts. Have happy holidays! Lara
I work in a nursing home and they all fight for the news paper. We have a copy of 3 different local papers, but it seems they are never enough. A years subscription to local papers will be used every day of the year. Better yet, spend some time there every week and discuss the news too! Company is 1st on everyones list.
My group, PT Force, is visiting a nursing home. I want to make a craft for them, but I'm "baffled". What should I make?
By Matthew G. from Reseda, CA
Is this something you want to make for the residents or something you want to help the residents make?
My first thought was a hand fan. You could use paper plates and popsickle sticks (tongue depressors are larger and would be easier for them to handle) and staple them together or glue them together. Decorate the plates before adding the handle.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
Make up a small scrapbook of the old neighborhood or even town.
just Xerox your pictures.
How about an indoor house plant that came from your house.
Or you could make a tape with the voices of the old familier neighbors saying something nice.
And in this technological age perhaps you could throw an picture and talk to familier neighbor phone party.
you know have someone go to the home of the other good friend neighbors
take their phone pictures and then talk a few minutes with the resident.
and last talk try to get the resident to talk about the good times they have had at the nursing. if possible let them give you a tour of their new home.
Have A Happy Visit
Just an idea, but when my grandmother was in a nursing home, My sister got permission to bring her Great Dane dog in to visit. Our grandma LOVED visiting with the dog and lots of other residents did too. Some came to her room and others asked for my sister to bring the dog over to them. They hadn't seen any pets in such a long time! Of course, it would have to be an extremely friendly animal and the visit fairly short. (12/12/2006)
We have church services at two nursing homes, and around Christmas time we like to give a little in-expensive gift. We have found out from years experience, some things the residents enjoy. Some of the simpliest things, yes, they really enjoy visits, they also enjoy singing. We sing church songs and even the non-church goers love it. We take in a guitar and travel room to room with some residents. The little gifts we give out once a year, may range from the little non-skid slipper socks, to simple toilette articles wrapped up pretty with a bow. Like comb, brush, toothpaste, small sample bottles of things like lotion, hand soap, or single packs of kleen-ex.
Go to the sample bottles of things at a store like Walmart, and look at things that can't be harmful to them. The elderly can't always handle certain foods, so leave that one off. One year we were doing a state run nursing home, they had alot of mentally challenged residents, and we gathered baby dolls, cleaned them up, my mom fixed their hair, and made them clothes, the residents were so happy. We gave the guys some socks and hankerchiefs. Working with the nursing home folks is a very rewarding job, try it. (12/12/2006)
Our Brownie girlscout troop just delivered 88 gift bags last night to a local nursing home (they sang carols while delivering)
a deck of playing cards (donated by Belterra Casino, THANKS Belterra)
toothpaste and brush and hand lotion
notepad and pen
cookies or crackers (as long as doesnt interfere with diet or residents restrictions)
Pin or jewelry for ladies
THey were a great hit (12/12/2006)
We used to visit our nursing home with our big old docile white cat. At Christmas, I took photos of the residents with the cat and made Christmas cards. The nurses tell me that they love photos, because they usually have some type of bulletin board on which to post them and some folks have no one to send them anything. Perhaps you could have someone take photos of you with your neighbor and make a card or collage.
By Cindy Bailey
One thing my grandfather wanted before he passed on, was "Blistex" lip salve! I believe that your time, your smiles, your laughter, your reassurance, and your loving hugs will be gifts no money can buy. Many are afraid, so terribly lonely, angry, confused, and "just waiting to die", as I've heard so often. When any say this, I reply, "We are all in that same line, you know, and none of us can add even one hour to our life, nor knows when it will come. You are very fortunate to have lived this long and you aren't leaving this world one minute before your time.", adding a chuckle as they think about it and often smile.
Wide topped socks are a favorite for men who have difficulty with putting on regular socks. Each of them seems to like soft warm cloth, regardless of what it has made. Gentle arm and foot massages are much appreciated, as is a little look out a different window they've not seen before recently.
Another good item is the Time ANNUAL magazine, that shows the major events of the year or years, about $15.00 U.S., the last I bought one. If they don't have one, a long-reaching magnet "gripper" is much appreciated for those who are stuck in a wheelchair or walker, provided it can be reached from their chair for such things as magazines, books, slippers, newspapers, once they get the "hang" of the "new toy", although not at all new to the market. Many cost as much as $30, but some can be found under that amount. I found one in a garage sale for $3.00, and use it to get hats down from, or return them to, the top shelf of my closet even now while I am still ambulatory and not yet confined or crippled.
Touch lamps are good if easy to reach. Master light switch boxes are convenient, and portable battery operated closet lights for closets, under bed edges, and inside deep drawers for those who still have their faculties. My mother loves for me to do simple activities from childrens' books, about 4th grade, with her since she has some dementia now. I even took a small electric keyboard to sing with her and allow her to play a bit. Men might enjoy it a little, but helping them to keep their clothing sorted, hanging together on the hangers is equally important. This is one of my forte's and is greatly appreciated if I know the person well and if no relative seems to be doing that job. (If there is an odor in the room, I spritz a tiny "Ozium" spray can rather than to leave because of it. )
Good luck and God bless you. : )
My mom lives in a nursing home 2,000 miles away so I try to send her a "care package" once a month. I send her 1 artificial flower for the season the month is in, along with her favorite candies (she isn't limited in her diet), she knits, so I send her yarn each time. I made her an album of pictures of when she and my father (deceased) worked on the farm together, her marriage license, and pictures of my sisters when they were small, who have recently passed away. Around January/February, when the grapefruit and oranges are ripe (I have two trees) I send a huge box of them combined to the nursing home for everybody to enjoy. I write her a letter every day and on it I insert pictures of beautiful scenery or the holiday that's going on. Recently I've been enclosing pictures of Phoenix and Sun City and our new Cardinals Stadium, which is only a mile away. I also insert jokes in her letters to brighten up her day. I work for a newspaper, so when my picture is in it, I send her a copy. I also clip little things out of the newspaper I think she will be interested in. I try to call her every day also. (01/09/2007)
I buy stuffed animals in good condition from a thrift store, as well as the dollar store, and take in a bag full to the nursing home that my mother lived in. The activities director distributes them to some patients, and uses others as prizes at patient game sessions.
Ladies often like jewelry, particularly pins/brooches, as they fit everyone.
Another popular gift at my mother' place is holiday themed decorations, changed monthly.
Not as inexpensive, but really appreciated and used are those no sew fleece blankets/lap robes.Both the double layer tied ones, and single layer fringed ones are used frequently. I buy fleece remnants which are big enough for lap robes quite cheaply. Knot two together, or cut fringe, and then trim the single layer ones by putting plastic or wooden pony beads on each fringe. (Pony beads are beads with large holes and are available in large bags at the fabric/craft store.) (01/10/2007)
For elderly folk who use walkers, a walker bag makes a nice, but not too expensive, gift. Flowery walker bags like from www.jeanswalkerbags.com are great for women, but for a gentleman you'd rather get a leather bag or something of that nature from Ebay. Seniors love to tote things around more easily. Also, there's a service called Happy Happy mail at www.happyhappymail.com that sends cheap gifts on your behalf, which is pretty neat! However, it's about $20 a month. (10/14/2007)
Remember ; do not give any toiletries : ex talcum powder, lip balm, etc...that are medicated. I was a nurse in a nursing home for many years and we needed a doctor's order to ok these kind of items or to ok the use by the residents. (11/05/2007)
I love elderly people. If there are any here I would like some help on what you like. I'm thinking of visiting the nursing home next to our food bank and baking cookies and making cards. I'm 14 and crafty.
Thanks for any ideas,
I think I would take a big basket of fruit. Many of them can't have sugar. You can put your cookies in it in baggies. I would also get some sugarless candy and put that in the basket along with some costume jewelry. For the men, money clips. You can find pins and costume jewelrey at yard sales for very low prices. I give my used cards and magazines to our local nursing home. What a nice girl, God will bless you! (07/26/2005)
My husband was a CNA in nursing homes for several years. Some people just do not get many visitors at all, and some do not get any. How about calling that nursing home and talking to the recreation director? Ask if there are any people who could use a visit more than others, and start with them.
You could also ask the resident if there is anything in his/her room you could do for them that they can't do for themselves. Maybe you could offer to take someone outside who cannot get outside by themselves after checking with the staff if that would be OK. While you are there, ask the residents themselves what they would have liked you to bring in case you get to go back.
If you've got any animals bring pictures of them to share. Ask if they had pets and what they liked best about them. They enjoy sharing their special memories about others. You could bring used videos and cd's for them to see and to play. I used to send in with my husband cd's of music to give to the recreation director to play for them. They really loved it. It was music of their generation, of course. The Beach Boys went over the best.
I used to cook bacon for someone who really loved it and seldom got it at the nursing home. Ask the rec. director if she could guide you in this, if this is something you would consider? And most of all, I am so proud of you for taking an interest in those who really need it.
Oh yes, some people have nobody to get more clothing for them when theirs wear out. Collect any good used clothing you can from whoever and donate it at the desk. I used to send in sneakers for one person who really needed them. They were used but clean and still in good condition. You could ask the residents if they know of anyone who has special needs they can't fulfill for themselves. Hope I haven't overloaded you with suggestions. And remember "Goodness Has It's Own Rewards". (07/26/2005)
Skip the cookies, many nursing home patients are on special diets but will eat anything they can find. Good gifts are magazines and books, silk flowers in a vase, offer to read, write letters or help make phone calls for those that need it. Offer a polish manicure. Laprobes and ponchos are great. Handmade art or drawings are good. Check with the activities director for ideas of things you can do. The social worker may also have ideas about needs you can fill. (07/26/2005)
I use to do crafts in a nursing home. Contact the Activities Director and discuss that you would like to do something for the residents. They will advise you. That is so nice that you want to volunteer your time. (07/27/2005)
NHO residents are often on special diets so I wouldn't bring food items. Socks with non-slip soles, sweatsuits, hand lotion, deoderant, crochet and quilted lap robes. Contact the staff Social Worker before going to find out the best time to go and what to bring. Adopt 1 or 2 residents that have no family or friends and never have visitors. Send them birthday cards and special occasions cards. Make a commitment to visit on a certain day - like every Tuesday - and honor your commitment. Life its so much brighter when you have something to look forward to. I worked as a social worker in a NHO and it is so sad to see all the attention at Xmas time and then the rest of the year the residents have no visits or gifts. (07/27/2005)
By far the best thing you can do is visit and talk and spend time with the nursing home residents. I'm sure you know that already. Any break in routine or new activity would be great, and since you're crafty! Off the top of my head: cards are a great idea. You could perhaps make do a mini card-making project with the folks there. Scrounge up and bring in whatever stationary supplies you can find (paper, glue-stick, fancy pens, envelopes, stickers, scissors, etc...) and organize an afternoon project--have people create a personal card (or even a postcard) to send to someone he or she loves and misses.
For the more coherent old folks you can just act as the art-teacher or supervisor, and for those with shakier motor skills you can be more "hands on"-- taking dictation or even prompting them for what to write. This project could be as big or small as you feel like making it- either way, it'd give the residents a fun distraction, and would give you a good ice-breaker to start chatting with and getting to know the people there, and the end result would be a surprise note to a relative.
Also- check to see if the nursing home might kick in for stamps!
That's just a thought... (07/27/2005)
Dear kristi, Bless your heart for thinking of others.You will benefit greatly. Think about asking them to tell you of their memories (on tape maybe). I see many good ideas have been listed already. I have a few more for you. Nursing homes lose socks and clothing. ( go to yard sales and get good ones for 10/ 25 cents,wash and dry) They love visits. Maybe you can find some friends to go with you sometimes.They like pocket packs of tissues, small stuffed animals,ceramic cups & bud vases with a real flower to smell. (10 cents at yard sales)Yard sale beads/dress pins,ask at yard sales if they would like to donate anything to the cause, like music boxes or small figurines. Read to those whose eyesight has gone.Some will not want anything from you.Don't be discouraged dear. Lots more will love your visits.Be sure to ask first if they can have cookies/Brownies. Some can and they would like to have homemade,now that Splenda ( sugar free) is available to use in baking you would be doing a great service to the ones that are diabetic. You might ask if you can take their picture and put it on constuction paper for over their beds or to give to family. Good Luck and YOU GO GIRL!!!! Great granny Hugs, Vi (07/29/2005)
By Vi Johnson
I have been making lap afghans to contribute to a local nursing home. Some elderly people get cold sitting in wheel chairs and I find that if I make them about 40 in. square, it's just the right size to cover legs. No fringe, because it might tangel in the wheels. also they love magazines that in good condition, no matter the subject. (12/10/2005)
http://ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/0189.html has several ideas. (10/29/2006)
I would hope the Nursing Home would let you bring food treats for the residents who can have them--the elderly love their desserts and sweets. Perhaps also make some sugar-free treats for others.
A lady at my Dad's nursing home makes a birthday cake for each resident's birthday, whether they can eat it or not. It's just nice to be remembered. People would sing Happy Birthday to them and the resident could possibly blow out candles. If they can't eat the cake, other residents, the nursing staff, and perhaps family or friends can certainly enjoy it. If not a cake, how about a nice helium birthday balloon and singing?
My Dad cannot eat--he has a feeding tube in his stomach. He can still hear, feel, smell and see (though not well), so I try do buy, or make, gifts for him that appeal to those senses.
If they can play games or put together a puzzle, they would enjoy doing that with you. (My Dad can't).
God bless you, Sweetie. (10/30/2006)
By Sandy from WI