Good gift ideas for care home residents

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By Kathy Lawrence, co-founder of When They Get Older, a web service devoted to helping people help their ageing parents.

You’re visiting a friend or family member for the first time since they moved into a care or nursing home. What do you take as a gift? Here are some ideas that we’ve found work well.

Edible stuff

Meals for residents can sometimes seem a little bland and soft because homes must cater for everyone. Think quiche that’s microwaved rather than baked. If your friend doesn’t fall into this category they may relish something crunchy. Many people will think of bringing biscuits and chocolate so why not try savoury snacks.

Home-made stuff

Shop-bought edibles can be good, but home-made can be better. Individual cakes or pies could go down a storm, or how about making some jam or marmalade? If you don’t make your own visit a farmer’s or WI market to pick up some of the genuine article.

Green stuff

Plants are fine if someone is going to remember to water them. And that’s a good idea – bring a small watering can too. Don’t forget though that homes are kept pretty warm, so don’t go for anything that will wilt in heat. Flowers might be a better bet, and in this case a vase as well would save a search later.

Reading stuff

Those who are at ease with technology will probably get on fabulously with an e-reader such as a Kindle. They’re relatively lightweight, easy to change font size, and there’s a world of books and magazines out there ready to be downloaded. They’re not for everyone though and if you’d rather give a book, it might be an idea to make it one with large print that’s not too heavy.

Hearing stuff

Some people prefer to stay in their rooms to watch TV – if they’re in the sort of home that makes that provision. Otherwise you’ll find many people gathered around the television in the communal room, and some may be struggling to hear. There’s all sorts of technology around to help, although some of it may need to be attached to the TV so could be a no go.

Washing stuff

Clothes going missing or handed back to the wrong resident is a huge issue in homes. Apart from labelling every single item in permanent marker (hard work) or sewing on labels (even harder work) you could try a net washing bag that all clothes could be bundled in to go the laundry. Some homes have already worked out the genius of this idea, but not all.

The stuff of time

It might be a cliché but there’s no gift quite like company. Short but frequent visits can really brighten up a day without being too taxing.

These tips were gathered from members of the When They Get Older community. To sign up for our weekly newsletter visit and simply fill in the form.