'Tis the Season and what a season it is!
This year is so much is different. As we continue to live amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of festive holiday gatherings and gift-giving looks vastly different than in years past. For our aging loved ones living in long-term care, assisted living facilities, or even independent senior residential communities there are unique challenges. Keeping safety in mind, you can still offer holiday cheer with a thoughtful gift. We've curated the below list of ideas - each one sure to make your loved one feel special during the season.
Music: Music has the ability to reach everyone. Keep in mind your loved one’s past musical preferences. Classical, big band, hymns and spirituals, and music from the ’20s to the '50s are good choices. CDs with these selections can easily be found online. Easy to operate CD players that can be plugged in make good gifts. The Masonicare Health Center recreation department also has CD players available for residents’ use.
Pets: Realistic stuffed dogs/cats that look like a favorite pet or the new puppy or pet your family might be welcoming could provide a comforting visual link. Personalize it with an engraved dog tag and collar holding the name of the pet. Remember that the purchase is for an adult who will require “real” looking items and not child-like toys.
Nature Appreciation: CDs of bird and nature sounds have a soothing calming quality. CDs are available that mix sounds of nature with music for relaxation. Picture books of nature, gardens or the ocean can also be enjoyable. Include a picture of your loved one’s garden or favorite beach location to be used instead of a bookmark. Write on the back of the picture where the picture was taken or a memory that was made there!
Food: Favorite cookies, cakes, fruits, and candy are always appreciated, especially for the ‘sweet tooth’ on your list. Be sure to check for any dietary restrictions before you bring in any food items. Choose sugar-free selections if necessary and individually wrapped items are especially appreciated.
NOTE: FOOD ITEMS NEED TO BE IN CONTAINERS THAT CAN BE WIPED DOWN AND DISINFECTED BEFORE THEY CAN BE DELIVERED TO THE RESIDENT.
Lotions and Creams: Hand and body lotions are always welcome. We do not suggest powders, which can create a slipping potential. Dry skin is a persistent problem for older adults so this will always come in handy. Pocket-sized hand sanitizers that the resident can take with them are a timely gift idea.
Photos: Arrange collages of old family photos highlighting the major events or people in your loved one’s life. It’s best to have a few larger pictures in the collage than several small pictures that may be difficult to see
Activity-based: Sensory and cognitively stimulating activities are available through mail-order catalogs. Consider a stocking filled with large grip pens and large print crosswords, word searches, or Sudoku.
Picture Books: Memories may be triggered by picture books of mountains, stars, children, historical events, and nature. You can create your own memory books by having reprints of old pictures and family mementos slipped into page protectors and gathered in a binder. If you are tech-savvy, Shutterfly can be utilized to make a personalized hardcover book – a true keepsake!
Travel Throws: A warm blanket helps to conserve heat, brighten a room, and keep your loved one warm and cozy. Travel size throws tend to be small and are perfect for individuals in a wheelchair. The smaller size prevents them from dragging or from getting caught in the wheels. Be sure that the throw is machine washable and dryable. Family photos can be printed on throws for a truly personalized gift.
Slipper Socks/Socks: Cold feet need warm socks or slipper socks. Slipper socks with gripper soles are always a good winter gift. Many residents enjoy wearing novelty socks with items of interest in the design because it reminds them of their interest area and also because they frequently receive comments from staff and other residents about their unique socks.
Electric Shavers: These are always a welcome gift idea for the man on your list.
Puzzles: Small puzzles and puzzle books make great gifts. Not only is puzzle making enjoyable, but it is a great way to exercise cognitive functions.
Tablets and E-readers: For individuals with dexterity problems that a small print book would present, these are a great alternative. If reading a printed book is difficult, gift them with a subscription to something like “Audible”.
Magazine Subscriptions: A good source of entertainment, magazines can also keep readers up to date on current events and trends. A subscription to their local newspaper provides a good town connection.
Large Print Out Clocks: can help the resident keep track of time; there are also clocks that print out the date as well as the time.
Large Print Calendars: are a great way for the resident to keep track of their appointments, dates, and special occasions. Give the calendar with important birthdays and milestones already recorded. Calendars can be personalized by including family photos on special dates.
Seasonal: Commit to providing a small seasonal decoration to be delivered at the beginning of each month. This helps with orientation and also gives your loved one something to look forward to and anticipate each month.
Small, Framed Photos and Artwork: These are good choices for rooms where surface space is limited. Framed photos provide an important link to the past and provide a good sense of family history. Don’t forget that a piece of artwork from the grandchildren makes a great gift when framed.
Fresh Flowers: In addition to always brightening up a room, residents love to tell staff who sent them and what occasion they were for.
Sports Team Merchandise: Mugs, water bottles and even baseball caps for wearing outside in the sun let your loved one continue to show their support and fandom for their favorite teams. A small pennant for the wall or to tuck into an arrangement is another way for the sports fanatic to root their team on.
Cards and Stamps: An assortment of cards complete with forever stamps is a thoughtful gift for the resident that likes to send cards to family and friends. Attach a wide grip pen to the gift to truly outfit your loved one to keep up their correspondence.
Accessories for Women: Colorful scarves and accessories such as decorative pins are simple accessories that can add flair to any outfit for women. Eyeglass tethers can provide a decorative bright solution for keeping track of reading glasses. Costume jewelry, especially with a vintage feel will be sure to bring a smile. Shawls, ponchos, and ruanas provide an easy to use cuddly and warm wrap that will be appreciated as we enter the winter months.
Download the list here for your next shopping trip!