12 Thoughtful Gifts for Seniors in Assisted Living

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Hands giving a gift
Halfpoint / Shutterstock

When everything you own has to fit in a single room, there aren’t many gifts worth getting. For the senior who has it all, here are some useful gifts that will be appreciated and won’t take up much space.

Your Time

While stopping by for lunch or attending a facility-family conference doesn’t seem like much of a present, your time is one of the best gifts you can give a loved one in assisted living. Seeing you will be a welcome break to the monotony and loneliness of their daily routine. It reassures them that they are important and cherished.

Clothing

Cozy bathrobes, non-skid slippers, cotton socks, comfy clothes like stretchy pants and sweatsuits, and clothing that’s easy to get on and off are always welcome gifts for older folks who can get very cold in the winter. 

Look into adaptive clothing for those with arthritis, limited mobility, incontinence, or other special needs. Buck & Buck and Silvert’s sell adaptive shoes and slippers for people with gout, diabetes, edema, etc. Compression socks can reduce pain and swelling in the ankles and legs by promoting blood flow and improving circulation.

Window Bird Feeder

If much of your loved one’s day is spent looking out the window, why not give them some feathered friends to view? A window bird feeder can be easily attached to the outside of their window with its strong suction cups. For hours of entertainment, make sure to grab a big bag of birdseed, too.

Food

Most residents love to receive edible gifts, like homemade cakes, cookies, candy, and pie.

Can’t bake? Buy snacks like Ensure or Boost, pudding or fruit cups, peanut butter crackers, juice boxes, and sugar-free candy. Better yet, make a gift basket with all of their favorite: teas, coffee, cookies, jams, cheese, etc. 

Salon Gift Cards

If your senior could use a little pampering, get them a gift card to their favorite salon or spa. If there’s one on-premises, ask if they sell gift cards. Nice shampoo and gentle scalp massage is even a good gift for a man. Ladies, you could go and get a mani/pedi together.

Media

Depending on their level of tech-savviness, you could get your senior some CDs or an iPod

Throw in some wireless headphones and they’ll be rockin’ around the Christmas tree. DVDs of movies or TV shows are a good option, just make sure they have a DVD player first. If not, that’s a great gift too! 

An e-reader is perfect for the bibliophile, although it will probably require an in-person tutorial. Large print books and audiobooks are good for those who can’t see very well. An autobiographical journal like The Book of Me turns into a gift for yourself when your loved one shares their family history. For seniors who use email, StoryWorth will send them a question weekly, then bind them into a book at the end of the year. A word of warning though: Not all seniors are eager to walk down memory lane.

Craft Supplies 

Crafting offers numerous benefits for older people, including improved cognitive ability, pain relief, stress reduction, strengthened the immune system, decreased the risk of cognitive impairment, improved motor skills, and lower blood pressure. Head to the craft store to stock up on supplies for your senior, like coloring books, colored pencils, small scissors, paint-by-number, yarn and knitting supplies, and embroidery kits. Need some inspo? Check out these Crafts for Seniors. It’s also worth noting that assisted living residents could always use some office supplies like pens and notepads. 

Games

Games for one, like Sudoku and crossword puzzles, should be at the top of your list, right before board games that require two or more players, like Ticket to Ride and Scrabble. Dominoes and backgammon seem to be popular among the older crowd, while puzzles provide hours of entertainment. 

Personal Care Items

Keep them looking flossy with nail clippers, emery boards, and unscented lotion. Caps and lids may be difficult for arthritic hands to open, so look for easy-open containers or pump dispensers. Trial sizes of things like wet wipes and hand sanitizers are the perfect size for pouch or pocket transportation around the home.

Photo Album or Scrapbook

These days, websites like Shutterfly make scrapbooking a cinch. Simply upload your photos, give them a few pointers, and they’ll send you a book full of memories. You can even do it around a theme, like a family vacation. If your senior is crafty, just bring them the photo prints and scrapbooking supplies so you can work on it together. 

A photo album is a great gift for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s to reminisce over, or for proud grandparents to showoff. Another option is an ever-changing digital photo frame filled with family pics. Websites like Shutterfly offer all kinds of photo prezzies, from desk and wall calendars to blankets and totes. 

A Trip 

What a senior in an assisted living facility really wants is to be busted out of that place! Whether it’s for lunch or an African safari, seniors who are more mobile will enjoy some time away with their loved ones. If a safari is out of the question, consider getting some concert tickets, or going to a movie, coffee shop, library, or museum.

A (Robo) Pet

Most assisted living facilities aren’t going to allow a living, breathing cat or dog to be one of its residents, but a robotic cat or dog companion may be just the ticket. These low maintenance pets can curb loneliness, and may even be the next big thing in dementia care. According to NBC News, “a recent review of studies on robopets for dementia patients linked to time spent with the robots to lower levels of depression and agitation.”