The limited personal space and institutional restrictions of nursing homes can make gift-giving a difficult dilemma. Gifts of food, candles and strong perfumes tend to be off limits or unwelcome in the facility. Thoughtful gifts that cater to a senior woman’s interests, such as gardening, reading or music, and pampering or comforting gifts such as lotions and bed jackets, can make her more comfortable and add a personal touch to the environment.
High quality soaps, shampoos, bath powders and moisturizing lotions make affordable and useful gifts for nursing home residents. To keep costs down and germs at bay, nursing homes often purchase inexpensive harsh soaps in bulk quantities, which can potentially dry out an elderly woman's skin. When choosing lotions, make sure you look for unscented or lightly scented products. Due to potential allergic reactions, many nursing homes discourage perfumes and strong scents.
Transform a generic nursing home room into a more intimate space by bringing items to help personalize the senior's room. Decor suggestions include unbreakable photo frames filled with pictures of family and loved ones or posters of favorite places or people.
Potted plants add a touch of nature to the surroundings and give seniors something to care for. This can be an especially practical gift for senior women who enjoyed gardening prior to their nursing home stay. Check with the nursing home first to make sure they allow real plants. If living plants are not an option, give them holiday-themed artificial plants, such as a mini-Christmas tree, an Easter lily or a fall display of chrysanthemums and pumpkins.
Seniors often enjoy listening to their favorite songs as an alternative to watching TV shows and a way to chase away boredom. Music can also potentially help stimulate dormant areas of the brain in seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, according to Concetta Tomaino, executive director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. Give a senior woman a portable CD player and some CDs of her favorite songs.
For a senior willing (and able) to embrace technology, an iPod loaded with her favorite songs makes a great option. Make sure you devote some time to showing her how to use it. The portability of the device and its ease of use (no fumbling with CDs and their cases) can potentially make it a good fit for many nursing home residents.
The indoor temperatures in nursing homes tend to be on the cool side since they need to accommodate the needs of as many residents as possible. Bed shawls or knit shrugs provide an attractive way to help keep senior women warm. These items add a layer of stylish warmth without the need for covering their entire outfit with a blanket or throw.
Books and Accessories
Make sure book-loving senior women can keep up with their hobby by providing senior-friendly magazines and books. Subscriptions to magazines related to hobbies or activities she enjoys give her something to look forward to every month. Books on tape (or loaded onto her iPod) help her enjoy books without eye strain or difficulty. Large print books also make good gift ideas for seniors. Include a small magnifying glass with the subscription or books so she can use it to help decipher small print items.