Contact: Kevin Kavanaugh
Director of Public Affairs
(773) 478-6613

December 4, 2008

 Holiday Gift Ideas for Nursing Home Residents

CHICAGO – With the holidays soon approaching, people will be spending hours at their local stores to find the perfect gifts for their loves 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:

  • Stationery, note cards, greeting cards, pens, and stamps
  • Lap writing desk
  • Calendar for 2009 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
  • Jitterbug cell phone with large buttons
  • Cardigan sweaters with large buttons, sweat suits, pajamas, and ladies’ housecoats and dusters
  • Firm shoes with rubber soles; enclosed slippers
  • Clocks with large numbers or verbal announcement capabilities
  • CDs of a loved one’s favorite music, such as songs from the 20s, 30s and 40s
  • Televisions, radios, and DVD and CD 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 or a subscription to Netflix
  • Subscription to a local newspaper
  • Books in large print editions
  • Checkers game, chess game, and decks of cards
  • Large print crossword puzzle, word find or Sudoku books
  • Age appropriate exercise videos
  • Wii entertainment system and games
  • For the men: boxer shorts, V-neck t-shirts, and socks
  • Digital photo frame with family photographs
  • Gift certificates to the facility’s on-site beautician, barber, or gift shop
  • Transfer old family videos and slides to a DVD
  • Tape recorder to log family memories and holiday traditions
  • Warm robe and/ or a twin-sized soft blanket
  • Dry erase boards for communicating with persons who have serious hearing loss

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 with large buttons.

Also, due to 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 2009 to help an elderly family member or friend feel recognized, valued and loved.

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The Illinois Council on Long Term Care is a professional association of nearly 200 nursing facilities committed to quality residential health care in Illinois through a productive and responsible partnership between the private and public sectors. The Council represents more than 26,000 nursing home professionals serving more than 37,000 residents. Helpful information for seniors and families can be found at the Council’s Web site