Gift Ideas for a Loved One in a Nursing Home

Picking out presents for your loved ones during the holiday season can be tricky, particularly when they seem to already have all the necessities. For instance, what do you get for a parent who resides in a nursing home?

Your senior loved one has likely had a lifetime full of gifts.

Now, their needs have changed and according to Megan Bolden, administrator of Penn Highlands Elk Pinecrest Manor, the number one gift you can give to an elderly loved one is the gift of time.

“Whenever our Pinecrest residents have visitors, regardless of what they are busy doing at the time, their faces always light up with pure joy,” she said. “Spending time sharing a meal or even just sitting and visiting with your loved one in a nursing home brings them happiness and a sense of pride. Your visit helps to make them feel connected to family and break up the monotony of their daily routine.”

Beyond the gift of sharing time with your loved one, Bolden said the following items can make for great gifts:

Games that are good for the brain.

Think along the lines of Scrabble, Sudoku books, card games, large-print crosswords, puzzles, etc. According to Bolden, these types of activities help to occupy time and keep residents sharp.

Photos and decorations.

Heartfelt gifts that your loved one can display in their room, such as old family photos or artwork, are a great idea, Bolden said. Remember, surface space is limited, so think of items that can be displayed on walls or consider placing photos in an album or scrapbook that can be kept in a drawer or load photos onto an electric photo frame that won’t take up much space.

Services at the salon.

Having their hair cut, colored or styled at a nursing home’s in-house salon can be a real treat for residents, Bolden said. Many nursing homes offer these services for a nominal fee. At Pinecrest, residents have a spending account to cover additional costs and their loved ones can deposit funds as needed or as a special gift.

Music from their favorite era.

If your senior loved one is tech savvy, you could load their favorite tunes onto a portable media player so they can listen to them whenever they like.

A calendar.

A calendar, whether homemade or store-bought can be a great gift for your loved one. Mark down all of the special dates, such as upcoming birthdays and anniversaries, for them so that they can send cards if they like.

Items of comfort.

The winter can be especially cold for seniors, so cozy items like non-skid slippers, plush robes sweat suits and pajamas are always a good idea.

Homemade treats.

Depending on your loved one’s dietary restrictions and swallowing difficulties, a homemade gift basket with their favorite holiday eats – cookies, crackers, cheeses, jams, etc. – can be a welcomed treat. You could even consider preparing a holiday meal at home and bringing it to your loved one to share together. However, be sure to ask a staff member at your loved one’s facility for permission first.

For additional gift ideas, don’t hesitate to ask your loved one’s care team, Bolden said.

“Although our senior loved ones may not live at home with us, we can still bring the joys of the season to them with visits and holiday celebrations,” she said.

Pinecrest Manor is a 138-bed skilled nursing facility providing long-term, short-term and respite care to individuals from St. Marys and the surrounding communities. To learn more, call 814-788-8488 or visit