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Valentine’s gift guide for nursing home patients

“They really appreciate visits and gifts this time of year,” said Barbara Platts-Comeau, recreation director at Genesis ElderCare’s Pleasant View Center in Concord, N.H.

In the three years she has worked at the center, some of the more popular gifts patients have received include sweaters, plants, home videos and photo albums.

“Anything with a personal touch is sure to be a hit,” she said.

But not every gift idea you come up with will be appropriate for a nursing home patient or resident. Here are some things you need to keep in mind when you’re out shopping:

Clothing

When shopping for clothing, make sure you read the labels closely. “It may be the prettiest sweater in the world and one your grandma will just love, but if it said ‘dry clean only’ on the label, that’s a problem,” said Platts-Comeau. Because of the logistics and expense involved, most nursing homes do not provide their patients with dry cleaning service, so make sure the clothes you buy as gifts are machine washable.

Plants

Plants make great gifts to give to someone who lives in a nursing home. “For a lot of our residents, especially those who got enjoyment out of gardening in their younger years, plants give them something to focus on and take care of,” said Tim Cornelison, recreation director at Genesis ElderCare’s Salisbury Center nursing facility in Salisbury, N.C.

Cornelison said African violets, spices, herbs, roses, and day lilies are all popular gifts. So are memberships to flower of the month clubs.

Tapes or CD’s

Nursing home patients love great entertainment. Collections of their favorite TV shows and/or movies would be a welcome treat. So would a CD player accompanied by a collection of their favorite vocal artists or books on tape.

Salon certificates

Most nursing home facilities have in-house salons where residents can go to get their hair and nails done, but there is a charge on top of room and board to take advantage of the service. A popular gift idea is to get the resident certificates good for a certain number of salon visits.

Room decorations

To help your loved one create a more home-like feel in their room, you may want to pick up some wall decorations, or perhaps a comforter in their favorite color. Picture frames containing photos of the grandkids also make popular gifts.

Photo albums and home movies

Entire albums filled with family pictures and home videos will also be treasured. Nursing home residents love to share their family memories with each other. Most residents won’t have a VCR in their room, but there will be one on the floor.

Magazine Subscriptions

Magazine subscriptions aren’t as personable as pictures and videotapes, but they will be well received. “Travel magazines are extremely popular around here. I often see residents thumbing through the pages and chatting with their neighbors about places they’ve been,” said Platts-Comeau.

If you’re not sure what your loved one needs or wants, pick up the phone and call the activities or social services department at nursing home. They see that person every day and should be able to provide you with a good answer.

“For a lot of people, the best gift of all is a visit from friends and family, and when you come, bring a home cooked-meal,” added Kristie Kim, who works at Genesis ElderCare’s Laconia Center in Laconia, N.H. “The facility food is good, but sometimes nothing compares to home-made favorites like bread pudding, tapicoa and pie.”

— Courtesy of ARA Content

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