As the holidays get closer, many of us are looking to buy or make gifts for the special people in our lives. Unfortunately, gift giving can be challenging when a friend or family member lives in a long-term care home. Often, gift-givers find it difficult to find something meaningful that fits into a small space, is practical and is appropriate for the person’s physical and cognitive abilities.
Route 65 has gathered some ideas to help (while you’re at it, why don’t you get us something pretty):
- Gifts that encourage reminiscence: Items such as family photo albums, photo calendars scrapbooks or historical photobooks can be fantastic gifts, particularly for people living with dementia. There are many online tools that can help you make custom photo gifts.
Tip: If making a photobook or photo calendar consider adding names below each picture (e.g., Geoff, your son).
- Comfort items: Soft blankets, slippers, cozy socks or robes are always good choices.
Tip: Many online stores are now specializing in adaptive clothing, which can be helpful if the person has physical limitations, or requires that their clothing has special features (e.g., Velcro fasteners on shoes or slippers, clothing that fastens at the back, magnetic snaps, etc.)
- Aromatic gifts: Lotions, soaps or other spa items with a scent the person likes are often appreciated.
- Decorative items: Framed family photographs, door decorations, ornaments or other meaningful decorative items can help to brighten up the person’s space.
- Sweets, chocolates or cookies: Because few people don’t have a sweet tooth!
Tip: Make sure that items are appropriate for any special dietary restrictions the person may have (e.g., diabetes, swallowing challenges, etc.).
- Costume jewelry, scarves or other accessories.
Tip: These kinds of items are best to be inexpensive, as it is not uncommon that they can become lost or misplaced, particularly if the gift recipient is living with dementia.
- Collectables: Memorabilia specific to the person’s interests including sports, movies or automotive can be a special way to acknowledge their interest. These items can provide a discussion point for staff who are interacting with your loved one.
- Things to do: Adult colouring books, puzzles and DVD box sets make great gifts.
Tip: If the person you are gifting to is living with dementia consider how they are currently managing when choosing your gifts – for example, you may choose a box set of an older familiar TV show or concert series, or select an easier puzzle or colouring book.
- A donation to a charity in the person’s name: Sometimes a physical gift isn’t appropriate. In these cases, consider making a donation in the person’s name.
An important note: As you are putting together your holiday lists this year, remember to call ahead and ask about the care home’s COVID-19 policy. Many homes are requiring that any gifts undergo a quarantine period before making their way to residents.
Looking for other ways to brighten the holiday season for seniors this year? Click here to participate in Route 65’s #SeniorsGreetings campaign and send a message to seniors living in long-term care and assisted living homes.