Holiday Gift Ideas for Seniors Who Live in a Senior Living Communit
Do you have your list all ready for the holidays? Whether your family celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or another winter celebration, giving gifts is most likely part of the festivities. But when a loved one has limited space in their home, whether that is a senior apartment, a skilled nursing or assisted living community, selecting gifts can be challenging.
Let’s start out with some things to remember:
- If your loved one’s living space is limited, avoid oversized gifts or things that will be of little use.
- Don’t give expensive or easily misplaced items such as electronics or family heirloom jewelry that could be lost or misplaced, and cause your loved one anxiety.
- Consider your loved one’s abilities. A new smartphone could be an awesome gift, but can your loved one see it and understand how it works? You might think “this sweater would be perfect for Mom!” but does it have fasteners in the front so she can easily put it on?
- If your loved one lives in a skilled nursing facility, talk to staff. You’ll want to be sure that gifts of food meet any dietary restrictions, that electronics are acceptable, and so forth.
So, let’s get going on that list! Here are some time-tested gift ideas that just might be perfect for your loved one.
Clothing. Select comfortable clothing that fits your loved one’s tastes. For a fun touch, your loved one might like a holiday sweatshirt, a shirt imprinted with a family photo, or garb with the logo of their favorite sports team. Properly fitted slippers and warm socks are also appreciated. And inexpensive costume jewelry can be fun. Clothing should be comfortable, with no difficult fastenings. It should also be machine washable. And be sure to ask staff about marking clothing with your loved one’s name.
Useful items. The simple things make life more pleasant. How about toiletries and cosmetics, such as lotions, soap or lip balm? Your loved one also might appreciate combs, brushes, or a cosmetic bag. If your loved one tends to misplace their glasses, a brightly colored glasses strap might be a good choice. And these days, beautiful face masks and scented hand sanitizers are popular!
Books and other media. If your loved one is an avid reader, a book or magazine subscription could be a great gift. Puzzle books and adult coloring books also are popular these days. Load a device with their favorite music, TV shows and movies. If your loved one has low vision, find out if large-print books work for them, or invest in an e-book reader, which can be set for large print. Ask your loved one’s vision specialist if you aren’t sure. Audiobooks are also popular.
Photo albums or pictures. Put together a scrapbook, album or digital picture frame loaded with family photos. Or bring a family portrait for the wall. A special, personal gift like this takes some forethought, but your efforts will be appreciated. If your loved one has memory loss, assemble a photo album of significant family members, special events and places, labeled to remind your loved one about who the people are and what the events were.
Upgrade their technology. If you think your loved one will be able to see it, hear it and use it without becoming anxious or frustrated, a smartphone—their first, or a newer model—can be a good gift. A tablet computer also can help bring in the outside world. Many older adults these days are pretty tech-savvy, but a promise to provide tech support will likely be welcome and necessary.
Items that can make their daily routine easier. Mobility devices such as canes, walkers and rollators help stroke survivors and people with arthritis and other musculoskeletal problems get around better. Maybe your loved one’s device could use an upgrade? Accessorize their walker or rollator with a caddy. Many clever gadgets make it easier to manage medical conditions. Grabbers can be used to get things off a shelf or pick them up from the floor. There are accessible kitchen and bathroom aids, and magnifying glasses and page magnifiers for loved ones with vision impairment. Talk to your loved one’s doctor, senior living staff or occupational therapist about appropriate choices among these types of gifts.
Holiday treats. Check with nursing staff before bringing in food; then, within any dietary guidelines, bring in your loved one’s favorite goodies, such as holiday cookies, cakes or fruit. If your loved one has always been the holiday baker in your family, ask for the recipes—those special, traditional treats are especially meaningful. If it’s OK with staff, bring enough to share! Avoid bringing perishable foods, or if you do, limit the amount to a single serving.
Experiences. These days with the “decluttering” movement, there’s an emphasis on giving experiences, such as theater tickets, adventures, museum memberships and tours—or these days, online virtual experiences. If your loved one is a short-term rehab resident, a gift certificate for a future adventure might lift their spirits. If the skilled nursing facility is their home, plan a trip out that is appropriate for your loved one’s abilities and preferences, and meets COVID safety guidelines. Or how about a personalized gift certificate book, with coupons redeemable for manicures, help with letter writing, smartphone tech support, reading aloud, etc.?
Memory aids. If your loved one is living with memory loss, find out about gifts that could be helpful, such as magnetic reminder notepads, a pocket-sized diary or calendar, or a digital calendar clock with the date and time in large type. If you’re not sure about whether a gift is appropriate or safe for your loved one, consult with staff.