Homebound seniors often feel isolated, whether they live at home or in an assisted living facility. Care packages for the elderly can bring comfort and make the recipient feel loved. When considering care package ideas for elderly people, watch for potential safety issues and restrictions to create a package the recipient can enjoy without worry.
Before you make plans for your care packages, check with the recipient or the recipient's caregiver to find out if anything should be left out of the package. For example, an elderly person with a health condition may be on a low-salt or low-sugar diet, so avoid sending food that doesn't fit those dietary restrictions. Anything that is sharp or breakable could present a safety hazard if the recipient has limited mobility or diminished cognitive functioning. If the senior lives in an assisted living facility or nursing home, some items, such as candles, might be restricted.
Choose Items to Include
The fun part starts when you begin choosing items to go into the care package. Think about the things the recipient enjoys, such as a certain type of snack, game or hobby. Consider the person's situation. If he's homebound or lives in a facility, he likely can't just go buy the snacks or fun things he wants. Bring those things to him in the care package.
Some options to put in the care package include:
* Puzzle books * Special treats like microwave popcorn, candy or home-baked goods * Tea or coffee * Movies * Decorative hand towels * Craft supplies * Clip-on light * Journal * Greeting cards or stationery and stamps * Cozy items like slippers or robes * Desk calendars * Gift cards to favorite stores or restaurants * Electronic photo frame loaded with photos * Everyday necessities * Guest book for visitors to sign * Collectibles * Holiday decorations or other holiday items
Add Fun Little Touches
Extra bonus items add a personal touch to the senior care package. Think about the things that might bring a smile to the recipient's face. A handwritten note is an easy option for personalizing the package. Buy a bright or funny card, and jot down a few lines to the recipient. If you have kids, ask them to draw a picture or contribute to the care package in some way. Photos are also a good way to add a little cheer to the package.
Pack the Care Package
Grab a box that's large enough to easily accommodate all the goodies, plus extra packaging to cushion the items, especially if you have anything fragile. If you ship the package via Priority Mail through the postal service, you can get free boxes at the post office. Other options include recycling boxes you already have or buying inexpensive shipping boxes from the office supply section.
Add an extra dose of cheer by decorating the inside of the box. Have your kids draw on the inside of the box, or glue drawings your kids have already completed to the inside. If you have a theme for the box, use it to decorate. For example, you might line the inside of the box with bright yellow paper with the words, "Sending you a little box of sunshine to brighten your day." For a holiday-themed gift box, use decorated holiday scrapbooking paper to line the box.
Package fragile things carefully. If you're shipping home-baked goodies, put them in a rigid container without extra space in it to keep them from shifting or getting crushed. If you send a glass figurine, wrap it in bubble wrap before adding it to the package.
Line the bottom of the box with tissue paper or newspaper. Arrange the items carefully, using more tissue paper or newspaper between the items. Once everything is loaded, to keep things from moving around, add more padding at the top until the box is full. Tape the box closed securely, and it's ready to mail.
- A sunshine box is a care package that is generally compiled by a group of people for a member of a church or family. The items can all be wrapped individually for the person to open over a period of days.
- Medications can react negatively with some foods, so be aware if the individual is on any prescriptions. Also, individuals who are going through challenges with cancer, Crohn's disease, hospitalization and diabetic conditions may have problems with some foods. If you are unsure, it is best to omit foods from a care package.
Shelley Frost writes professionally on a full-time basis, specializing in lifestyle, family, parenting and relationship topics. She holds an education degree and has extensive experience working with kids and parents.