Written and reviewed by Lourdes Duah
Gift-giving can be a rewarding, yet surprisingly difficult task. Unless your recipient has flat out said “I want _______ for my birthday” or drops some major hints about that book they want for Christmas, it can be daunting trying to find the perfect gift. Even if you know this person like the back of your hand, that doesn’t necessarily mean you know the exact gift they’ve been thinking of all year.
When shopping for the nursing home resident in your life, there’s even more to consider. They may have less storage space or certain mobility issues that could make some gifts less useful than others.
Ultimately, your best bet is to go with what you know and what you can learn about this person. Ask relatives, close friends, significant others, and anyone else who knows them well. Even the nursing home staff that interact with your loved one might have ideas on what they’d like.
One tip for you: no matter what you end up gifting to your loved one, a personal touch never hurts. Add in a handwritten note telling them how much you care about them or throw in their favourite treats. Most gift ideas can be bought at a store, but nothing warms a person’s heart like being reminded that they’re genuinely loved.
That said, if you find yourself completely stumped, here are some ideas to get you started.
Personalized Key Chain
A keychain is small, portable, and tends to be relatively inexpensive. Yet, it can be highly personalized and come in almost any shape, design, or style. If you can think of it, someone has probably made it into a keychain, so you have plenty of options that will fit your recipient’s interests. You can find a book keychain for the reader in your life, a musical note for the family member who loves to sing, you can even find a keychain for a famous landmark that your loved one enjoys.
Large-chain stores will have plenty of keychains to choose from, but a fair number of artists and small businesses make them as well. Some may even take requests for customizations or let you commission a completely new piece. Shop around major stores or contact an artisan near you to see what’s available.
Adult Colouring Books
Colouring is a fun activity that evokes memories of childhood. Researchers claim it may offer several health benefits with regular practice. An article by Healthline claims it may help with depression, anxiety, and general stress. Mandala colouring in particular is said to help with meditation. If done before bedtime, colouring may also improve your sleep by aiding relaxation. Colouring also keeps your eyes away from screens that can interfere with your sleep quality.
Colouring may have even more benefits for seniors. Motor skills can deteriorate over one’s life due to illness and natural aging. Learning to steady one’s hands for colouring can help combat this change. Healthline calls colouring “a workout for the entire brain,” which can help you exercise creativity, organization, staying focused and attentive, decision-making, and problem-solving.
While health claims may need more research to reach definitive answers, many studies and personal anecdotes agree that colouring can be a relaxing activity to focus on. For a personal touch, you might be able to find a colouring book full of subjects your loved one enjoys, like flowers. If you’re not sure, mandala colouring books will probably be a safe bet. Add in some pencil crayons or non-bleed markers and you’ve got a great relaxing gift. The Arbor Company, a group of senior living communities, suggests turning it into an event by inviting the whole family for a group colouring session.
Growing older can mean dealing with certain disabilities and mobility issues. Unfortunately, this can make certain features of conventional clothing, like buttons and zippers, more difficult or even impossible to operate.
Adaptive clothing is specifically designed for people with mobility issues and disabilities. This can make getting dressed much easier for a nursing home resident. Instead of struggling with closures, you can find clothes with magnetic buttons, magnetic zippers, or Velcro fastenings that are much easier for someone with limited mobility. Styles of adaptive wear are expanding, so, with a little research, you may be able to find something that suits your recipient’s physical needs and their personal taste, not just one or the other. Shop adaptive shirts, pants, and shoes for the perfect gift to refresh your recipient’s wardrobe.
Clothing can be pretty personal, so if you’re not sure what style your recipient likes or what their size is, you can always go with a gift card or simply agree on a set amount you’re giving them to spend on whichever pieces they want.
Photograph, Photo Album, or Digital Photo Frame with Slideshow
Often, the more personal you make your gift, the more meaningful it is. And what could be more personal than an album full of all the best memories you can find?
You have several options with this gift. If you can think of one memory that you know your loved one cherishes, for example, a vacation they enjoyed or an festival where they had tons of fun, you can look for photographs of it and make high-quality prints of them. Pair it with a nice frame and you’ve got a great reminder of a happy memory that you can give to your recipient.
You can also work with multiple photos in a digital frame or physical album. You can do a general collection of interests or happy memories from your recipient’s life, or you can theme it around something. For example, if they have/had a partner, you can theme it around their love, showing photos from dates, events, weddings/vow renewals, and more. It may be a meaningful gift even if their partner has passed away but be careful if that is the case. It can be overwhelming to be flooded with the memory of someone you’ve lost. Use your best judgment on whether your loved one is in an emotional place where they can appreciate that kind of sentimental gift.
Other themes you can work with include your personal favourite memories with this person or landmarks they’d like to see. If the recipient has children/grandchildren, you can show major moments of them growing up. These are only some of the possibilities, so try out whatever you can find photos for.
Bath and Body Items
Caring for oneself is crucial at any age. Soaps, lotions, hair products, and other grooming supplies can be both a practical gift and a luxurious one.
Major stores will have a decent selection of practical, lower-priced, less specialized bath items. There are also plenty of small creators and small businesses that make a living from decadent soaps, lotions, skincare products, and more. The range of ingredients, benefits, and scents is practically endless, so these handmade items make a great gift with that personal touch small creators are known for. Many shops also have unscented versions of their products if strong smells irritate your loved one or you’re not sure what scent they’d like. You can even seek out products specifically for what your recipient is dealing with. Some products may be marked for dry skin, thinning hair, exfoliating, or wrinkles.
Wherever you go, a nice scent soap or a deep moisturizer can give your loved one a little bit of luxury, decadence, and self-care all in one without breaking the bank.
A Day of Pampering
Your gift doesn’t have to be a material item. A great experience with someone who loves you is its own amazing gift, so consider taking your loved one out for the day.
You have many options for a day out. A favourite restaurant or a new one they’d like to try is a perfect way to give both an experience and your time.
A spa day or a massage can help both you and your recipient relax and unwind. A manicure or pedicure can have the same effect with the added benefit of beautifully done nails to show off and enjoy. If your loved one likes to get dressed up, a makeover might be a fun day. Take them to Sephora for their own personal, professionally-done makeup job. Alternatively, you can take them shopping for a new outfit to feel beautiful in. If you both have the energy, you can even let your loved one show off their new look by going out to a fancy restaurant or another event afterward.
A day of pampering can give your recipient a special treat while giving them time to relax and recharge. If you’re able to join them, you also get all that relaxation along with priceless time with your loved one. Look around your recipient’s area for the pampering you think they’d like best.
Hopefully, this list has inspired some new gift ideas, but ultimately, you know your recipient best. Learn as much as you can about your gift options and your loved one to bring a smile to their face, whatever the occasion.