For family caregivers whose seniors live in senior living facilities, visiting your loved ones is probably the highlight of their day!
They enjoy when you come as much as – or maybe more than — you do!
Naturally we can’t go without bearing gifts. These gifts come from the heart.
You search for things they might like or perhaps something you think they need.
All too often our gifts take the form of goodies that may not be the healthiest for your senior loved one.
Our gifts should be enriching, not harmful, so what really are the best types of gifts family caregivers can bring?
Gifts to Avoid
Seniors can be vulnerable to some of our gifts so the short-term pleasure may not be worth the risk.
- Avoid food gifts that are perishable. Oftentimes seniors living in facilities don’t have the proper storage areas for foods and treats that need refrigeration or airtight storage. The result could be food poisoning for seniors who are more at risk than you might think due to weakened immune systems and chronic diseases.
- When you bring food gifts, it is important to remember travel time and the fact that the temperature of a meal you prepared or picked up on the way may not be safe by the time you get there and the food is actually eaten.
- Be aware if you are bringing food that must be refrigerated or reheated when it is time to eat it that some seniors living in a facility may not have the means to achieve that after you are gone.
- Bringing treats that may be against their doctor-prescribed diet, such as high salt, fat, or sugar type snacks could cause them to suffer a setback in their chronic disease.
- Your aging senior may also have trouble chewing and swallowing so that certain treats may be difficult, or even dangerous, for them to eat. A hard candy piece can easily get lodged in the throat of many elders.
- Bringing candies or other treats that are not properly sealed in containers can draw bugs in the facility, which is something no one wants.
Gift Ideas Sure to Please
There are many different kinds of gifts that seniors and family caregivers can appreciate when given.
Here are some ideas for some that will be cherished:
- Your time and attention when you visit.
- Handmade cards, especially when created by children and/or with the latest family photos.
- Help them connect to family via technology such as Skype, FaceTime, or with a smartphone.
- Special hand lotion or cologne to make them feel treasured each time they use it.
- Something they need, like a new pair of warm socks, a box of soft tissues, hand wipes, or lip balm
- A good book with large print. Can they use an audiobook?
- Music of their era in CD, MP3, or other format that they can turn on themselves whenever they wish to listen.
- A TV viewing guide with their favorite shows highlighted with days and times so they don’t miss a thing!
- If able, take them out to dinner.
- Bring in their favorite film on DVD or take them out to a movie theater and enjoy the film together.
Spending quality time making memories instead of bringing food treats that might be harmful for their health and well-being is a great way to stay connected with the family and show your love. Here are some other articles family caregivers might like to get creative with seniors.