Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion or help a relative settle into their new nursing home, a gift is a simple way to show your loved ones you care.

To help you find the best gift for your friend or family member, we’ve put together a list of the 18 best gift ideas for nursing homes. In addition to general gifts that are suitable for all nursing home residents, the list includes the best gifts for men in nursing homes, as well as the best gifts for dementia patients in nursing homes.

Best gift ideas for nursing homes

Moving into a nursing home is often a moment of significant change and it can take a while for new residents to feel at home. A thoughtfully selected gift is a great way to brighten your friend or family member’s day, while helping to make their new space feel more like a home.

Before choosing a gift for a nursing home resident though, there are a few things to keep in mind. These include:

  • The size of your loved one’s space. Chances are it’s a lot smaller than their previous home, so smaller gifts are generally the way to go. If you can, it’s also a good idea to check whether they already have an item before buying it, to avoid duplication.
  • Any restrictions the nursing home might have in place. For example, does the nursing home allow photos to be hung on walls?
  • What your loved one enjoys. Pick something that aligns with their interests.
  • Any mobility issues your friend or family member may have that makes a gift unsuitable.
  • The cost of the gift. Unfortunately, it’s not unheard of for valuables to go missing in nursing homes.

With that in mind, here’s a list of the 18 best gifts for nursing home residents.

1. Flowers and indoor plants

Gift ideas For Nursing Homes - Flowers

Fresh flowers can add a bright touch to the room without taking up too much space. A low maintenance pot plant is another great way to add a bit of greenery, particularly if your friend or relative used to care for a garden. Succulents or other plants that don’t require much water make particularly good nursing home gifts.

2. Quilt or blanket

A pretty quilt or blanket adds a homely touch while also helping to keep your loved one warm. If you’re an avid crafter, a home-made quilt or crocheted blanket makes a beautiful gift—especially if you include fabric with sentimental value to your loved one. Whether you buy or make the blanket, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s lightweight but warm and easy to wash.

3. Family photos

Family photos are one of the most popular gifts for nursing home residents. They help keep nursing home residents connected to their family and friends while providing an opportunity to reminisce about times gone past. Indeed, reminiscing—or the ‘act of recalling and sharing memories from the past’—has been shown to have a range of health benefits for seniors.

There are a range of ways to gift photos to your loved one. If space allows, printed and framed photographs make a great gift. Just make sure to place them somewhere in the room where they’ll be easily visible. Alternatively, a photo album, customised photo book, or digital photo frame which cycles through preloaded photos are all great options to save on space. You could even have a favourite family photo printed onto a mug!

4. Books and magazines

If your relative or friend is an avid reader, consider gifting them a book or magazine. Not only is reading a fun way to pass the time, it’s also a pleasurable way to keep the mind active which is important for ageing well. You can even read the same book yourself to have something to talk about!

Keep in mind that some people have trouble with small print. If this is the case try and find a large print copy of the book. For tech savvy seniors, an e-reader is also a good option that helps to save on space, while making the reading experience accessible.

And if your loved one prefers magazines, a subscription to their favourite issue is a great way to give them something to look forward to each month.

5. Audiobooks

Audiobooks are a great alternative to books and magazines, for relatives and friends who find reading too difficult. Many people also find it comforting listening to another voice. Audiobooks are still available as hardcopy CDs—a simple option that makes it easy for your relative or friend to play the audiobook themselves. For more tech savvy seniors, a digital subscription is a good way to give a broader range of audiobooks without cluttering their space.

6. Adaptive clothing

If your loved one has mobility issues, adaptive clothing makes for a practical, yet thoughtful, gift. Adaptive clothing is specifically designed to make dressing and undressing easy, making everyday tasks more comfortable, while preserving your loved one’s dignity.

Popular items of adaptive clothing include: grippy socks specifically designed to prevent seniors from slipping on polished floors; indoor slippers with easy to adjust closures to accommodate bandages or swelling; and tops and trousers with discreet, modified closures to make them easy to take on and off.

7. Pamper kit

Gift ideas For Nursing Homes - Pamper Kit

Putting together a kit of personal care products that your loved one wouldn’t otherwise buy is a nice way to treat them and help them feel good. Hand cream, nail polish, nail files, lipstick and hair brushes are all inexpensive options that will help your relative or friend feel fabulous.

8. Home cooked meals or treats

There’s nothing quite like a home cooked meal or baked treat. If you have the time, cooking your loved one’s favourite meal is a lovely way to show you care. Before you do, make sure to check that home cooked food is permitted within the nursing home and that there are appropriate storage facilities (e.g. refrigeration if required).

9. Games

Whether it’s a deck of cards, puzzle, chess set, or a favourite board game, games are a fun gift that keep the mind ticking over and encourage social activity.

10. Activity books

Colouring in books, sudoku, and crossword puzzles all make great gifts to help your loved one pass the time while staying mentally alert.

11. Room decorations

If permitted by the nursing home, wall decorations like posters or children’s artwork can be a fun way to brighten your loved one’s room.

Best gifts for men in nursing homes

In addition to the gifts listed above, here are some specific gifts for men in nursing homes.

12. Shaving kit

A quality shaving kit that makes shaving easy without compromising on quality, can help your friend or relative maintain their confidence and independence. Look for razors that are designed to be gentle on sensitive and/or loose skin, as well as easy to hold and manoeuvre. Cordless, electric razors are particularly good for this. And why not throw in their favourite aftershave or cologne!

13. Model construction kits

If your relative or friend enjoys tinkering, consider gifting them a model construction kit of some kind. Some good options include a Meccano or Lego set, model boat or model car, but there are options to suit a range of interests and skill levels.

14. Personalised stationery kit

Journals, letter paper and nice pens make great gifts for people who enjoy writing. You can even have the stationery monogrammed to add a personalised touch.

Best gifts for dementia patients in nursing homes

As well as participating in activities to boost dementia patients’ happiness, gifts can be a thoughtful way to show you care, while also helping your loved one to manage their illness.

Here are some of the best gifts for dementia patients in nursing homes.

15. Photo album or memory box

Gift ideas For Nursing Homes - Photo Album

A photo album or printed photo book is a beautiful way to reminisce with your loved one, and can help prompt their memory. Similarly, a memory box full of a collection of old items (such as old birthday cards or wedding invites, trinkets, fragrances, toys and photos) can help jog their memory and promote conversation.

16. Robotic pet

Robotic companion pets—either cats or dogs—provide a sense of companionship to dementia patients, helping to lift their mood by reducing loneliness, anxiety and depression. Much like a traditional stuffed toy, patients can pat, cuddle and talk to the pet, without the hassle of needing to look after it in the same way they would a real pet.

17. Memory games

Regardless of the specific activity, memory games help to promote a sense of focus, stimulating brain activity while reducing the effects of anxiety. Some popular games include puzzles, crosswords, card games and colouring-in.

18. Personalised calendars

A calendar with pre-filled dates like family members’ birthdays is a helpful way to reduce the stress of having to remember key dates, while also assisting your relative or friend to keep track of time. Adding family photos for each month can also help prompt your loved one’s memory.