Have a loved one who’s recently relocated to a retirement home or assisted living facility? Wondering what might make a best-ever Christmas present this year? I’m here to help!
Now, all assisted living facilities have their own rules, regulations and ways of doing things to take care of our loved ones, so not all of these suggestions may work for you - what a shame - but hopefully you'll find just the perfect thing for your special someone.
1) Adult incontenince pads/garments. (This is THE most important and consistant item on their lists.)
*A note about poise, depends, assure, ensure, etc.: Those who need these products do not enjoy purchasing them. These items are fairly resonably priced, but they come in large, highly identifiable packaging. These items are difficult to carry, embarrassing to carry onto the bus for the trip home, and don’t make lovely gifts in and of themselves. The way to give this gift is to deliver them, alongside your gift, on the sly. (i.e. leave them in Aunt Agnes’ bathroom where she’ll see them after you’ve gone.)
2) Hard Candy and chocolate (diabetic candy/chocolate if necessary). They really do prefer those wonderful selection boxes – they offer the pieces they do not care for to their friends and visitors, or just enjoy griping that those distasteful things are even cluttering up the space that could have been better used with the type they prefer. Give them something fun to complain about!
3) Something salty like pretzels or crackers.
4) Hand/body lotion.
*Special Note: When selecting handcreams and body lotions, try to avoid heavily perfumed varieties. Also focus on deeply moisturizing, non-greasy formulas. The elderly who must use handrails, walkers, canes or mobile chairs must be able to attain a good consistent grip on their mobility aids. Slick hands are useless and can create hazards like dropped coffee cups and such.
5) Super-comfy and warm bathrobes and light-weight bathrobes.
6) Slippers and socks.
7) Jewelry that affixes to clothing.
8) Scarves, gloves and hats.
9) Boxed tissue and baby wipes.
10) Lip balms.
11) Cash in any amount.
*Regardless of an elderly person’s financial portfolio, cash is king. Cash gives freedom from accountability and autonomy to an individual, regardless of the amount. It also reduces stress, particularly on our elders. Select a secret spot in their room and remind them each time you visit, so they don't forget it and it doesn't disappear.
12) Underpinnings. (Please don’t embarrass your loved one by checking the panty/underwear drawer’s contents, just ask for clothing sizes and offer undergarments with a receipt. This affords them privacy and the comfort of freshness.)
13) A dorm-sized fridge and microwave, and a toaster. (If your loved one’s facility will allow them and your loved one would enjoy the freedom to have and keep a little midnight snack stash.)
14) A pet hamster, fish, or a turtle – if the facility will allow.
15) A pre-paid, or pay-as-you-go cell phone.
*These devices are inexpensive and have no contract, but they will allow your loved one to make contact with their friends and loved ones whenever they like. These can also provide extra
16) Fresh fruits and vegetable baskets.
17) Model airplanes, model rockets and model cars.
18) Sewing kits.
19) Books on tape: These can be found online, at Cracker Barrel Restaurants, and in a lot of
wonderful local book stores.
20) Art pencils and sketch pads.
21) Lap blankets or bed blankets.
22) Needlepoint supplies, yarn, knitting needles, sewing machine, etc. Fabric.
23) DVD player with movies or Netflix with an Xbox 360 gaming system, Kinect.
24) Deck of cards.
25) A laptop computer with pre-paid internet access if no wi-fi available in the facility.
26) Pillows and bedding.
27) Hot water bottle.
28) New, larger, tv.
29) Paint sets with canvases.
30) Hairspray and antiperspirant, spray-on hair colors.
31) Nail polish and remover with cotton balls.
32) Board games.
34) Paperback books. (Men in particular purchase a lot of “Wild West” paperback novels. Women in particular purchase a lot of romance novels.)
35) A camera or video recorder.
36) Gift cards. (Please write the amount on the card on the card, then have your loved one ask the cashier – upon each purchase – to mark on the card exactly how much remains. These often cause great confusion for elderly users and this is the easiest way to avoid such confusion.)
37) Flowers and growing plants.
38) Fresh toothbrushes (if still used) and toothpaste, otherwise denture cream adhesive and mouth sore ointments.
39) Bandaids in pretty designs and colors.
40) A natural light table lamp.
41) Wood carving tools with wood, or a kit to make wood crafts.
42) Music box jewelry box.
43) Sweaters in their favorite colors, slacks in neutral tones, shirts and t-shirts.
44) New frames for their glasses.
45) A lantern and a flash light.
46) Swiss army knife.
47) A rice bag. (You’ll have to make this one, or give them the supplies to make their own: You’ll need a small bag of rice – maybe two pounds? – a 2’ x 2’ piece of cotton fabric, washed and dried. Sew the fabric sides together, leaving a small opening. Pour rice into bag you’ve sewn, then seam
shut. These can be placed in any microwave for 45 seconds to a minute to produce a warm, moist heat that lasts about a half-hour. The bigger the bag, the longer you’ll keep in microwave, but use caution, the steam can cause burns and a heat bag may not be advised by his/her doctor. The advantage of these over a heating pad is that if one falls asleep, there is no danger of fire.)
48) A new chair or recliner.
49) Hair dryer or new towel set.
50) Electric razor.
52) Wine and/or beer. Sparkling cider or champagne
53) Soda in cans.
55) Instant coffee and a mug, with creamer and sugar.
56) Fresh Doughnuts. (Men particularly love doughnuts and pastries.)
57) Popcorn/kettle corn/Cracker Jacks. (Ladies really go after this treat.)
58) Nuts and a nut-cracker.
59) Fruit cups, yogurt treats, pudding cups.
60) Air fresheners.
62) Hand-held shower massager.
63) Hand-held vacuum cleaner.
64) A safe.
65) A cedar chest.
66) Re-sealable airtight container set.
67) Mattress pad.
68) Yo-yo and/or bouncing ball.
69) A musical keyboard or guitar.
70) Remote controlled cars, trucks, helicopters, etc.
71) Fresh new window curtains.
72) Bed set with sheets, pillows and shams.
73) Belt or suspenders.
74) Bathroom set with new curtain and rugs.
75) New lighting fixtures and nightlights.
76) New handbag or wallet.
77) Shoes and/or boots.
79) Cards/stationary and stamps.
80) Electric chilled wine cellar, beer cooler, coffee maker or a sodapop vending fridge.
81) Room sized pool or air-hockey table.
82) Electric sandwich maker, muffin maker, cupcake maker, or pie maker.
83) Bonsai garden kit.
84) Latch hook kit.
85) A lava lamp.
87) Miniature Garden set.
88) Puzzles. (think jigsaw)
89) Paint by number kits.
90) Tool set.
91) Kid’s stained glass kit (Shrinky-dink?)
92) Golf clubs, or golf club video game for Xbox.
93) Seasonal decorations so they can decorate their space.
94) Bird feeder and Binoculars for wild bird watching.
96) Electric Fireplace.
97) Pet Parakeet or pair of lovebirds with supplies.
98) Grill with accoutrements.
99) Electric train set.
100) Ceramics kit with kiln.
101) A shopping trip with you will probably top their list. If so, please remember that a trip to the Walmart, or other superstore, is a trip and a half to an elderly person; pace yourself!
Let them push the cart, let them set the pace, and take breaks before they need them. There are a lot of things - creature comforts - that assisted living facilities do not provide. Some are included in the above list to give you the heads-up. ;)
The other thing assisted living facilities often do not provide to residents: enough time to shop. You should be sensitive to the fact that your loved one is likely given no more than forty-five minutes to shop - no matter the size of the store they're escorted to - and that they are not attended unless a store clerk takes the innitiative to offer shopping support. If you are sensitive to this aspect of their new lifestyle, you'll understand why they often cannot get the things they need, or want, on a regular basis. (How would you, for instance, grab a bag of depends, a bottle of lotion, an air freshner, and a bag of pretzels, and carry them around a store with both of your hands on your walker?)
I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful Christmas Season! ...And feel free to post your great gift ideas in the comments section, below. There's no way I've even covered the tip of the iceberg for fabulous gift ideas!
Happy Holiday Gift Hunting!
Amy K. Jones
Amy K. Jones
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