When my husband's Mom went into the nursing home, I realized that bringing care packages and gifts to her was a great way to help an elderly woman adapt to a place she really didn't want to be! Whether your loved one is in a care facility or assisted living, there are some products you can bring that will give comfort and a touch of home.
When Mom (my mother-in-law for the last 16 years) had to go into the nursing home for an extended stay, I realized we would have to make it nice there for her to feel comfortable and get better enough to come home. I know I would hate to be stuck there too!
That said, most of the ideas that I came up with were for food items… soda and cookies and candy. Well, that didn't work so well so we had to really stretch to figure out things that would make her happy AND that made sense for someone living a pretty limited life!
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Okay, let's get this one out of the way first… sending in goodies has nothing on actually going to see them, even if it is a quick visit. I tend to go see Mom for about an hour most days, which considering it was 15 minutes away, means an hour and half out of my day, BUT it makes SUCH a difference to her!
Mom's roommate got very few visitors and it was heartbreaking to her calling people, asking them to come by. As much as you can, pop in and say hi! Even if it is just for a couple of minutes.
These are what I consider personal happiness gifts! They come from the heart and remind your loved one that there is more out than just those four nursing home walls and there are people out there who love them and are thinking about them often.
Pictures/Videos of Grandkids
The first night Mom moved in was pretty heinous… there was a screaming lady in the next bed, Mom was in tears and we were scrambling to see what we could do about getting her into a different room. After the chaos calmed down but before Mom got to her room, my husband sent over two quick videos of the kids saying, “you got this gram”. It was such a small thing, but it really made her feel loved and connected.
Pictures/Videos of Pets
One thing I can always count on to make Mom smile is bringing in a picture of her little dog with me. Just seeing his funny little face reminds her that she is working hard in PT and OT to get strong enough to come home to him!
Book of Pictures From Home
This is one I know works because we used it when we were adopting our kids before they moved in and we did pictures of their rooms and the house. If your Mom or Grandma is suffering from dementia or Alzheimers and has trouble remembering where they live, having a book that is full of pictures of their house, bedroom, backyard, the den, functionally anywhere they can recognize.
This would also work with people, have a picture of her grandkids with their names. Sometimes Mom forgets Joesiah's name and calls him Johnny, but she tends to always remember he plays sports because she has pictures of him playing lacrosse.
We used Blurb to make the books!
Stuffed Animals or Baby Dolls
I have been doing a lot of reading about how having stuffed animals has helped dementia and Alzheimers patients find comfort. Mom's memory is dong much better right now that we got her UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) cleared up, but as her disease progresses we will for sure get her the Pete The Repeating Parrot that was recommended in the article or something like this talking hamster (Mom is more of a fuzzy critters gal than she is a bird woman!)
These are more personal care products that the nursing homes sometimes supply, but which having something special can seem like a real treat!
I don't know if it is a rule or not, but I find that the room at Mom's place are super dry and that she gets a little flaky! I got her some hand lotion from Bath and Body Works that had a super nice seasonal smelliness about it!
We got mom some super fancy and colorful nail files that added a pop of color to her little swing around bed table! They are probably the cheapest thing we got but they were used the most!
No Rinse/Dry Shampoo
At the nursing home where Mom is they only do showers/hair washes two times a week. When she looks in the mirror and sees her hair looking bad, she feels bad, so a quick washy-wash on the hair is a real mood booster!
No rinse shampoo… I did not even know this existed! It is a little messy, but it does a really nice job with very little effort. Functionally it is a liquid that you put into her hair and then just towel dry. Her hair is cleaner and smells super nice.
Dry shampoo… Dry shampoo is a great alternative to going wet if your mom is super incapacitated!
Shampoo shower cap… This little darling was super cool… we had them in the hospital before she got to the nursing home! It is a shower cap that you can just plop on, let sit and then do a scrubby with the cap on and BAM… clean hair!
Making Their Room Cheerful
Having that boring beige room is not a great way to feel better about life… sigh. There were two super great things we did that made Mom's room more cheerful and fun!
I KNOW it is fun to have fresh cut flowers in your room, but that is not super practical when Mom can't really take care of them and the nurses aren't super attentive. This is an arrangement that we had in her room at home that we moved to the assisted living center.
We started this one at the hospital and kept it up when she moved to the nursing home. A pretty blanket serves two purposes… First it keeps her warm if she gets cold and second the nurses always comment on it!
We just bring in ones she already had at home, but you could get her something special if she doesn't already have one she loves!
I can't even begin to imagine how boring it must be to sit around in bed day after day. With that in mind, it is a great idea to find fun things to do!
My mom loves playing solitaire on her bedside table and this deck of cards is super easy to see because they have really big numbers and suits. Check out the large print playing cards!
This is a fun idea I saw that we haven't gotten yet, but that seems like an Alzheimers Activity Apron would be really handy to help mom keep busy!
I heard a bunch about bringing in art supplies but thought that would be a bit daunting to keep in order and how would Mom drag them out and put them back? That would be perfect if she fell and broke a hip while we were trying to get her better… NOT!
But then I remembered there were watercolor painting books I had used with my kids… perfect!
Mom use to love to read, so we brought her a ton of books that just sat on the side table until I figured out that with her short term memory loss reading isn't fun anymore. She can't keep a track of the story line and gets really frustrated with the letters, even if the books are large print.
But magazines are great! She can flip through, looking at pictures and seeing all kinds of fun colors and interesting goings on!
We are not super worried about someone taking it, although that could happen, but it is a locked facility so we feel as secure about it as we did in the hospital!
Practical and Helpful
These are some things that we have found over time as she has been there that have really helped her feel better about being alone in the nursing home!
Cute Compression Socks
One of the reasons Mom fell was that her blood pressure would drop when sat or stood up. So they have her in compression socks… super fashionable white ones like in the picture above. Well come to find out that there were actually cute compression socks!
Sometimes it is hard to see things tiny when you have older eyes! Having a hand-held magnifier helps Mom see details when she wants to zoom in and actually read her magazines!
This is one that I would never have thought of before Mom complained that her roommate liked to go to sleep WAY earlier than she did! Having a small flashlight that she could use to read her magazines or see around gave her a sense of mischief and that she was getting away with something!
I am starting to think that it sounds like Mom is complaining about her roommate a lot, but she never really did! She just wasn't used to living with someone else after having lived alone for almost 20 years.
Ear plugs were vital when her roommate tended to chatter away. Mom just popped in earplugs and it never stopped her roommate one bit!
The nursing home is super hot in general and a couple of Mom's roommates liked to have the heat up pretty high all day and night. Having a handheld fan let Mom get a breeze going if she got a bit overheated!
These are so darn cool! Even though Mom is using one of those super fancy new-fangled walkers with wheels and a seat, having a walker bag gives her a chance to use her walker and not lug a purse around!
Dry Erase Board
Mom has really been struggling with her memory and it really makes her sad to not know what is going on. We got a super cool dry erase board with markers that we could use to show her the day, year and what is happening during the day!
I don't have a picture of Mom's but she has an iPad propper-upper that she can use to watch movies on her iPad without having to hold it all the time in her lap!
I think this is the next thing we are going to get Mom! She struggles with losing her TV clicker and nail files so having it hung around her neck and tied on would make everyone happier!
Nursing Home Gifts For Elderly Women Wrapup
Okay, that is enough for now. If Mom winds up staying there too much longer I will make sure to add anything that we find out that makes her happy or makes our lives easier!
Please leave me a comment below if you think I missed any really good products!