Americans are experiencing an extended life expectancy which seems to be rising with no end in sight. As a result we not only have people living longer, but we also have older people living longer. The end result is a growing number of nursing home residents who stay in homes for longer and longer periods of time. Visiting these friends or relatives in the nursing home can be difficult but occasionally by bringing along a small gift you can raise the spirits of both you and the person you are visiting. These five ideas can give you a place to begin.
1.Writing paper, cards and stamps – Many seniors who are in nursing home settings still are anxious to keep in touch with friends and relatives. Note paper, seasonal cards, birthday cards and the requisite stamps are all likely to be well received by the nursing home resident you might be visiting.
Of course the best thing about this gift is that the cards you bring also can become an activity for the two of you to share while you visit. Perhaps you can provide addresses or help with writing an extra note. What’s even better is that you can leave carrying a card or two that your friend or relative trusts will now be safely deposited at the Post Office. A great gift for nursing home visits to your special friend or relative might well be writing paper, cards and stamps.
2. A Special Snack – You’ll need to check with the nursing home staff before you bring in this great gift for nursing home visits. But within reason, you are likely to find that most nursing homes allow food to be brought in from outside their own kitchen, but appreciate it when you check with them first.
Bringing in a simple snack from outside the nursing home can lift a person’s spirits and make them feel quite special. Try to bring something that is easy to eat and something that the two of you can share. Your friend is bound to enjoy something that is not from the nursing home menu but you will double the enjoyment for you both if you remember to bring enough to share.
The ultimate snack you can bring is of course something that you made yourself or something that you remember to be one of the patient’s favorites. But don’t worry, your efforts will be rewarded because a special snack is always a great gift for nursing home visits.
3. Small house plants Brightly colored, cut flowers can be a nice touch in a room but you may find that a great gift for nursing home visits can also be the far less expensive, but much longer lasting, green house plant. By purchasing the house plant and then bringing it home to dress it up a bit with a touch of ribbon, a miniature balloon or a piece of glitter, you can bring a simple gift that will both look colorful and last longer.
Select small ivy plants, a cactus, or even an African violet. These plants will last well without much attention. They will continue to do well with minimal watering and they will look healthy. There is nothing more depressing than to be surrounded by wilted, sad looking plants.
Remember that part of the fun of bringing a house plant as a great gift for a nursing home visit is that the plant automatically becomes a focus of attention when you return for your next visit. You can discuss how the plant is doing, discuss its location, question its need for water. A plant adds life to any room and is always a great gift for a nursing home visit.
4. Small field or opera glasses Many nursing home patients find themselves spending lots of time indoors especially of course in inclement weather. Their world tends to shrink around them. By bringing your friend or relative small field or opera glasses you may be giving them the gift of temporary escape. Using the glasses to look out nearby windows can help to open up the world of birds around the facility.
When you visit you can spend time helping the patient to locate good places to use the glasses and share the results of using them. Make sure if you do bring this gift that you let the staff know where the glasses have been placed and how they can be accessed. If the nursing home is not inclined to let the patient store glasses in the room, then make the glasses the gift that keeps on giving by storing them at your home and bringing them with you on repeated visits.
5. Mini scrap book or picture album With very little expense you can purchase a small mini scrapbook or a reduced size picture album that can be kept in the patient’s room at the nursing home. Pick something colorful that can be found easily if tucked in a drawer.
When you first bring this gift make sure to bring a few pictures to put in the album. Depending on the dexterity of the patient either you or the patient can begin to put the pictures in the album. This gift provides a good conversation piece as you discuss the pictures you brought and talk about other pictures you might want to add.
On future visits you might also bring a camera and take a few pictures of the nursing home itself or of other residents who are special to your friend or relative. These can be developed and brought back at the next visit providing another round of interesting conversation and giving the patient something to look at in your absence as well.
There are many different kinds of great gifts for nursing home visits. Most patients are far from fussy. They are pleased to be remembered and they delight in even the most simple recognition from you to them.
In your selection of gifts look for things that can be a center of activity or conversation during your visit and can be kept and used in your absence. And of course no gift is good if it is not permitted by the nursing home staff so check ahead to avoid disappointment. Bringing a great gift can make your next nursing home visit something memorable for you and your nursing home friend.