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Holiday shopping

December 9, 2013
by Kathleen Mears
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After reading many articles about what to buy nursing home residents for Christmas, I thought I would give some suggestions based on gifts I have received living in a facility over the years.

I have always been difficult to buy for, but moving to a nursing home made buying the gifts even more difficult. I have asked my family and friends to ask me what I need or want.

When you are unable to ask your resident what he or she needs, just consider your loved one’s daily activities and shopping will be easier. If you want to know what clothing items your resident needs, call the facility and speak with an aide who does their care because they will know.

Buy residents moderately priced clothing and stay away from items that require special care in the laundry. I no longer wear sweaters because they do not do well in the laundry. I stick to knits, cotton/polyester blends and 100% cotton clothing. Underwear is a good gift, but buy the brand or style he or she prefers.

It is best not to buy breakable gifts. Gifts made of glass or ceramic are likely to break which can be dangerous for the resident and staff.

Photos are a great gift. Put them in unbreakable picture frames with no glass or Plexiglas. If you want to buy knickknacks, get them made of wood or unbreakable plastic. Small battery-operated candles are a great gift that can make a resident room homier.

Ask the facility if your resident has any dietary restrictions. Even If your loved one is underweight and able to eat sweets, ask the facility if he or she is well enough to eat their favorite treats before you send them. When sending sweets, send smaller quantities or have the facility ration them out so you resident will not overindulge.

One year I received a large box of individually wrapped cookies. A friend said she wanted me to have Christmas cookies around. I rationed them out to myself and shared them with others.

Residents do cherish their holiday food goodies. A surly male resident here carried his holiday goodies gift can everywhere with him one year after Christmas. He took it to every meal and watched it when staff or other residents came near.

Small flashlights and batteries are good gifts. If you buy small electronics, they can be lost or stolen.

If you buy health and beauty aids, remember some residents and staff can be sensitive to overpowering scents. Instead, unscented lotion is always a good choice.

If you can, help decorate your resident's half of the room. Keep in mind space constraints. A lighted wreath on the wall saves space and brightens the room. They are available with battery-operated lights and timers as well as regular lights. When you are decorating, encourage your resident to help.

I hope these suggestions help families have a happy holiday season.



Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...