December is now well underway, as is the Christmas shopping for many of us. However, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without one or two loved ones on your gift list who is harder to choose a present for than others. People living in residential care can often be less than straightforward to buy for. At a time in their lives when they have most likely reduced the amount of stuff that they own in order to fit it into their room at the care home, they may not welcome brand-new clutter to find homes for. Dietary requirements and care needs mean that choosing something edible could well need some very careful thought as well.
Rather than resorting to a default gift that represents a safe, but not that imaginative choice, why not take a look through our Christmas guide to giving presents to care home residents?
Memories and mementos
For many care home residents, thoughts of friends and family offer great comfort and solace. When loved ones live far away, or are unable to visit as often as they would like for various reasons, this can be difficult for everyone involved. Gifts that remind a resident of their friends and family can therefore go down very well indeed. Some good options include a digital photo frame loaded with recent photographs, or a physical photo album. You can get photographs printed on all kinds of objects now too, such as blankets, cushions, mugs and jigsaw puzzles. A great way to keep loved ones in mind and their faces nearby. Alternatively, writing a special Christmas letter or having children draw a picture to send is another great way to let the care home resident know they are loved and thought about at this time of year.
Comfort and joy
Many people in residential care feel the cold and need to have access to lots of layers. A cosy new dressing gown or jumper can go down well at Christmas time, as can a blanket, throw or bedspread. Warm, sturdy slippers help keep feet cosy and safe, while a scarf can be used both indoors and outside for a versatile gift that won’t take up too much room. Other ideas to add comfort and warmth include cushions that can be bought ready made or crafted using a piece of fabric that holds meaning for the person receiving the gift. Perhaps an old curtain than hung in their previous home, or an item of clothing from their own or their children’s younger days.
Luxury and pampering
Another good idea is to buy more luxurious versions of everyday items, such as soap, shower gel, hand cream or make up. This can ensure that your loved one can enjoy a small treat for weeks or even months after Christmas by using a more special version of their usual toiletries. This can also apply to edible treats, such as chocolate, sweets, tea, coffee and snacks. If you can’t decide what to choose from out of all of their usual toiletries and favourite foods, why not make up a hamper with lots of different items for them to enjoy?
Outings and activities
If your loved one still enjoys going out and about, tickets to an afternoon concert, sports match, film or theatre show could be a nice treat for them to look forward to after Christmas. Likewise, a plan to take them out to visit a nearby garden or tourist attraction – or even lunch or afternoon tea with you and other family members or friends. This helps people know that they are not forgotten, and that their company and conversation are still of value. If the person is unable or unwilling to leave their care home, why not arrange a date and time to go over to them with a picnic basket, or a cream tea and a DVD to watch together.
Scents and sensibility
Our olfactory sense is extremely powerful. Even when other senses start to prove troublesome, we can often retain a full sense of small and enjoy a wide range of fragrances. Different scents evoke different moods, from feeling invigorated and refreshed to relaxed and comforted. Small can unlock memories too. So, a perfume, oil diffuser, room spray or bath oil can really help a loved one feel cared for and even unlock memories of home, family members and friends.
While some people shy away from giving more practical gifts at Christmas, some carefully chosen aids can make a huge difference to someone’s day-to-day life. Simple items such as a magnifying glass to help with reading, or a shoe horn to make pulling stubborn boots and shoes on easier can be very well received. Many people find a new love of books through an e-reader or a pile of audio books. Clothing that is easy to put on and take off is another way to help care home residents retain more independence and choice.