BUTLER, Mo. – One of the biggest challenges of the holiday season is finding gifts for friends and relatives who live in nursing homes or small apartments.

People with small places have big hearts and miss giving to others, says Tammy Roberts, University of Missouri Extension nutrition specialist. “Think about giving them something they can share with visitors and nursing home staff,” she says.

Some specialty food companies offer a monthly delivery of seasonal fruits and goodies. This gives the resident something to anticipate and share all year long. Or take wrapped snacks such as peanut butter and crackers or granola bars to offer to others. Check with nursing staff about diet restrictions first.

While homemade food is always a favorite choice, there are plenty of other inexpensive gift ideas that will be appreciated, Roberts says.

Crossword puzzle or word-search books help seniors keep brain cells active and fill time. “Be sure to purchase the large-print books to make it easier on the soon-to-be word sleuth,” Roberts suggests.

Bulletin boards filled with photos also are good choices. Layer several pictures in a single picture frame. The photos can be changed periodically. Better yet, visit and take a new photo for each season, says Roberts.

Help seniors remember family events with a calendar marked with birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions. It’s helpful if you add the name, address and phone number on the calendar square marking the date. Add a box of pre-stamped cards to make it easy for them to connect with others. “It takes a little bit of time and effort, but the calendars that have family pictures every month could be a nice touch in the resident’s room,” Roberts says.

Digital photo frames preloaded with photos from the past and of new family members evoke memories and are great conversation starters. It helps the resident reconnect with the past and gives caregivers a gentle reminder that the person they are caring for was once young and vibrant, Roberts says.

Residents will appreciate items they can donate to the activities department of their nursing home. Movie DVDs, yarn and craft kits are ideas.

If the senior citizen in your life is able to leave the nursing home or apartment, take him or her out for a meal at a favorite restaurant. Follow the meal with a drive around town to look at the Christmas lights, Roberts says. The gift of time and conversation always tops the list.

Other gift ideas:

• A terrarium.

• Soaps, lotions, talcum powder and personal grooming items.

• Decorative tissue holders.

• Books on tape or large-print books.

• A nice blanket or lap robe, shawl or bed jacket.

• Return labels, envelopes and stamps.

• Gift certificates to restaurants or the local nutrition center if the resident can leave the room or apartment.

• Sun catchers for the window.

• Gift certificate to the in-house beauty parlor or barber shop for hair and nail needs.

Read more http://extension.missouri.edu/news/DisplayStory.aspx?N=2400


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