Magazine article Work & Family Life

Visiting a Nursing Home? Bring along a Small Gift

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Visiting a Nursing Home? Bring along a Small Gift

Article excerpt

If you visit someone in a nursing home resident regularly or once in a while, the question arises: Should I bring a gift? And, if so, what should it be?

The answer to the first question is "yes." Under normal circumstances, it's good to arrive with something in your hands. It will please your friend or relative and leave behind tangible proof that you were there.

But don't think of it as a costly obligation. The best gifts are small ones that won't add to the clutter. In her book The Nursing Home Connection, Anne Sharp suggests:

* Think in terms of singles. A pack of gum, roll of mints, crossword puzzle book or a new magazine. Reading material is a great gift that can be passed on for others to enjoy. Just avoid heavy volumes or thick hard-to-handle magazines if your loved one is frail. If he or she is visually impaired, find something with large print.

* Keep it small. It can be something that fits into a pocket or wallet such as a photo of your child or card with your name, phone numbers and email address written in your own handwriting. A single small photo of an event that just took place in your life can provide fuel for sharing and conversation.

Photos are also a reminder to your loved one of the outside world. They are visible proof of one's connections and "belonging." A small photo album can provide a link between the past and present. Just make sure that it will fit in a bathrobe pocket.

* Practical items used every day. Nursing home residents can always use a new pen or pencil and some postage stamps. Other handy items include an inexpensive mirror to hang on the wall by the bed, a miniature hand mirror and a new toothbrush every few months.

* Looking good. The list of small, inexpensive, useful gifts for women is endless. For example: pure soaps, body lotion, lipstick, baby powder, emery boards and barrettes, hair ribbons, clips or bows. Male residents also need personal grooming items such as hand cream, body lotion and aftershave products. …

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