Remember that nursing home rooms, particularly semiprivate ones, do not have a lot of storage space. Avoid purchasing large items. If you want to buy a CD or DVD player find out what the facility allows. Also find out if your resident can operate it or if the staff will need to assist them.
If you want to give food, make sure that your resident’s dietary restrictions do not prohibit them. Also, items needing refrigeration cannot be kept for very long. If you live nearby, a resident’s favorite meal would be welcome and you could take the leftovers home with you.
Perhaps you could purchase an amenity for your resident. Many residents would enjoy having their own telephone with the service fee paid each month. Newspaper or magazine gift subscriptions are good choices. Consider audio books or CDs, but remember there are storage issues with them as well. A flashlight and extra batteries are useful especially during power outages.
If you live far from your resident, contact someone nearer to check their status before purchasing or sending a gift. This is always good policy. If there is no family member nearby, contact the facility and staff can probably assist you. Do not automatically send the pound of chocolates that you always send. Your resident’s health, diet, and eating habits may have changed and candy may no longer be something they can enjoy.
If you want to bring Christmas decorations for your resident, check with the facility to see what is allowed. There are small trees available that are appropriate for nursing home rooms. Trees with battery-operated lights guarantee safety and require no electrical outlet. If the tree requires electricity, find out what type of extension cord you are allowed to use. Go easy on the decorations. Too much is definitely not appreciated by the housekeeping staff or aides. Find something small that is eye pleasing.
If you want to give flowers, poinsettias do not do well in warm rooms. So if you want to bring one, make it a small one. It is always a good idea to bring small flower arrangements. Bear in mind that your resident’s roommate may have breathing problems or might be allergic to them. Flowers do require attention from someone, especially living plants.
Usable gifts are clothing, toiletries, photos, picture frames, bed throws, and lap blankets. Make sure that these items are machine washable and dryable. It is better not to buy expensive clothing, unless a family member or friend is doing the resident’s laundry and keeping track of the clothing. Even with the best intentions, clothing can be misplaced or lost. It is better to buy moderately priced clothing and replace it more often.
Make sure that clothing items have the hang tags and price tags removed. Print the resident’s first initial and last name in each item in two separate places with indelible marker. Remember that the indelible marker will eventually disappear. So, pre-printed name tags ironed on or sewn in are a great gift as well.
Before bringing your resident clothing and non consumable gifts request to add these items to the resident’s inventory. It is a good idea to update this list when new items arrive and old ones are removed. You could make a handwritten list and have the charge nurse sign it. That little bit of time will track what your resident owns.
If you want to send or give the resident money, be careful. Money is difficult to keep track of even if the resident is alert, oriented, and has use of their hands. Call the business office to ensure that your check or money order will be deposited in their personal account. If you drop off cash at the business office for a resident, request a receipt. The resident or their power of attorney receives a quarterly report of this account.
Breakable items will break in a nursing home, so stay away from them. They are also potentially dangerous. It could also be heartbreaking if the snow globe given by a favorite niece gets broken. Buy unbreakable picture frames and look for wood or crocheted figurines. Check out craft shops or shows to find them. Decorated calendars with large numbers are colorful and dress up the walls. Silk flowers and plants are also attractive.
When buying scented items, check to see if the facility has restrictions regarding aerosol sprays or scented plug-ins for the rooms. Buy moderately priced colognes and lotion. The fancy name is nice but other colognes and lotions will provide the resident with the same enjoyment.
Several residents here have enjoyed electronic pseudo aquariums and battery-operated candles. They give ambience to the room and make it feel cozier.
Another idea is a gift certificate to the nursing home’s beauty shop. Call the facility for salon prices.