What Can I Give?

Georgann with poinsettia

BRIGHTEN THE HOLIDAY: Practical and cheery gifts make the season merry for those in nursing homes. At Columbia Basin Care, Georgann Powell enjoys a poinsettia present.


 In a gift giving frenzy? Finding the just-right gift for an elderly family member or friend can be a challenge. To make holiday shopping a bit easier, Columbia Basin Care, the region’s only nonprofit nursing home, offers this list of fun and practical gift ideas for older adults living in care facilities:

• Blankets & Clothes
“Anything soft and comfy,” says Christina Herron, a certified nursing assistant at Columbia Basin Care. She suggests cozy blankets, soft pants, and warm tops.

• Socks & Slippers
“Everyone loves slippers and socks,” says nurse Mario Cardenas. “They love stuff that keeps them warm. To avoid slips and falls, make sure the socks are non-skid.”

• Lotions & Soaps
Things that smell good make great gifts, says nurse Rylee Parke. Some ideas: lotion, body wash, soaps, and shampoo. Also, women always like hair clips, barrettes, and pins.

• Books & Magazines
A newspaper or magazine subscription for someone who can still read is a gift that will keep giving all year long. Those no longer able to read often enjoy being read to, and look forward to a regularly scheduled book “date.”

• Flowers & Plants
“Fresh flowers,” says Aubree Olmstead, Columbia Basin’s administrator-in-training. “When someone walks through the halls with a bright bouquet, faces light up.”

• Snacks & Treats
Most nursing home residents can enjoy occasional sweets and treats without disrupting their carefully planned diets. For those on restricted diets, give sugar-free sweets.

• Stuffed Animals
“You’d be surprised at the people who love the comfort of a soft companion,” says Alesia O’Brien, activity director.

At any age, from children to seniors, the best present of all is presence, she says.

“What people appreciate most is your time,” she says. “Every year at Christmas, we see family members and groups making special visits, which is wonderful. But it’s important to remember that residents like to have visitors throughout the year.”