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Gift Ideas for Nursing Home Residents

author image Lori Rice
Lori Rice is a freelance health and travel writer. As an avid traveler and former expat, she enjoys sharing her experiences and tips with other enthusiastic explorers. Rice received a master's degree in nutritional sciences and a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, fitness and health.
Gift Ideas for Nursing Home Residents
A group of elderly people seated around a table. Photo Credit Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images


When you have a loved one in a nursing home, you do your best to create a comfortable space for them with warm memories from home. The gifts you give can help to contribute to this mission. Keep in mind any rules the facility may have regarding items allowed in the rooms, then get creative and give a gift that provides fond memories, favorite foods or activities to pass the time.

Digital Picture Frame

A digital picture frame allows you to insert a memory card that contains pictures you’ve taken with your digital camera. The frame contains a screen similar to a computer screen and you can program it to display a continuous slideshow of photos. Use the frame to display family photos of a recent event, or pictures of those who have come to visit in the nursing home. You can continue to add pictures to the memory card as time progresses, so it is a gift you can continue to update and change. You can buy digital picture frames at most electronic stores and in the electronics sections of most department stores. In 2009, they range in price from $40 to $200, depending on the level of technology and options.

Gifts with Light

Items that light up or provide something attractive to look at are ideal for a nursing home resident, due to the amount of time sitting in a room. Around the holidays, a gift of a miniature table-top Christmas tree or a candelabra with illuminated light bulbs simulating flames are ideal. These gifts can be set out on a table or a stand and turned on during the day and evening to create a festive atmosphere. Choose those with solid lights and avoid items that may blink constantly or play music. These may be an unwelcome distraction, especially if your loved one has a roommate. You can buy these items at most craft stores for less than $25.

Things to Do

Depending on how active the resident is, gifts that provide activities to pass the time are a good option. Simple board games, word search books in large print, novels in large print, magazine subscriptions, and a CD player with CDs are all suitable gifts. These are the types of items the resident can use daily and they can share some with other residents to create friendships and socializing. These types of gifts can be found for less than $20 in many stores, including a dollar stores and larger department stores. You can easily purchase magazine subscriptions online.

Homemade Treats

If you have a close relationship with the resident, and he does not have any dietary restrictions, consider creating a gift of homemade baked goods. Soft items without nuts or hard pieces, such as brownies, cupcakes and sugar cookies are work well for older adults. These treats will give your loved one a welcome break from the cafeteria-style desserts she is likely receiving in the nursing home. In addition, if you bring extras, she can share the items with friends. If you prefer not to bake, most bakeries and coffee shops provide appropriate items which they will package or gift wrap. Most items range from $2 to $3 each. However, keep in mind that mail-order food gifts for residents you do not know is not recommended.

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