When you can’t be with your loved one in person, or if you just want them to know that you’re thinking of them, a thoughtful care package can lift a senior’s spirits and provide them with special treats or useful items. But what to include in care packages for seniors? We’ll give you some ideas so that you can customize a care package to send to your loved one, whether they’re far away, recently moved into an assisted living community, or just need something to look forward to.
Care package ideas for the elderly
You’ve decided to put together a package for your elderly loved one, but what to put in it? We recommend a mix of the following. Don’t feel like you need to go overboard, either, though: a small package of just cookies or a large envelope of the kids’ drawings will still be as welcome as larger boxes of gifts.
- Treats: Favorite candy, cookies, or savory snacks (especially any local delicacies your loved one might not be able to get where they live) are always welcome.
- Books: This will depend on how well you know your loved one’s tastes, but consider sending them books or audio books (and a device to play them on, if they need one).
- Games or puzzles: Plenty of senior citizens love Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and other puzzles and games. You can find books of these puzzles and send them a fresh one periodically. These have the added benefit of keeping seniors’ minds sharp.
- Coloring books: Coloring isn’t just for kids. You can find beautiful adult coloring books for all interests, and adults of all ages find the activity soothing. Don’t forget to send nice colored pencils or markers, too.
- Letters, pictures, cards: Even a short letter describing what you or your family has been up to lately will be appreciated by someone who remembers when handwritten notes were the norm. Get kids in on the action: have them practice signing their name or writing a letter or story to send an elderly loved one. If they love drawing or crafting, send their pictures and projects along with some tape or cute magnets, so that your loved one can display them.
- Stationary, calendars, journals: Don’t forget nice pens or pencils (especially if your senior has some dexterity issues). Your loved one might enjoy nice blank books or pretty stationary with which to keep up their correspondence.
- Local newspapers: Although we live in the information age where even small towns generally have an online news outlet, your loved one might appreciate getting the printed version of their hometown’s publication.
- Recurring or subscription packages: These aren’t quite as personal as gift baskets you assemble yourself, but there are themed subscription packages for almost any hobbyist these days. Find craft subscription boxes, wine subscriptions, and cosmetic or skincare subscription packages: there’s something for everyone.
- Fresh cut flowers: This isn’t quite a care package but fresh cut flower subscriptions can be a cheery thing for your senior to look forward to each month.
- Gift cards: If you're not sure what your loved one would like but know where they like to shop or eat, send a gift card to a favorite store or restaurant.
Holiday care packages for seniors
Here are some gift ideas to put into holiday care packages. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or another fall/winter celebration, your senior will appreciate a package that shows you’re thinking of them, even if they’re able to celebrate in their assisted living community or with other family members.
- Family recipes: Of course, be aware of any dietary restrictions your loved one might have, but consider baking your loved one’s favorite cookies or holiday treats. Fresh toasted or candied nuts, cookies or tarts, biscotti or kolaczki — whatever your loved one enjoyed making or eating over the years. Especially if you know your family recipes are unlikely to be included in cookie exchanges or made by the community staff, your loved one will appreciate the fond memories your care package invokes.
- Favorite candies: If your loved one grew up in another country, traveled extensively in their youth, or is simply accustomed to the flavors of your culture, visit the specialty stores in your city to find quality baklava, or the rice candy they loved as a kid. If your beloved senior has ever waxed lyrical about a Western candy you’ve never heard of let alone seen on a store shelf, check out The Vermont Country Store: they have a selection of old-fashioned candies that can be difficult to find.
- Tea, hot chocolate, cider, or other warm drinks: There’s a variety of hot drink mixes and blends available nowadays. Send their favorites or new flavors to try. Consider including a special mug or tea cup along too.
- Favorite lotion, lip balm, or other toiletries: Cold weather can take a toll on skin, send their favorite scents of hand or body lotion, or unscented, gentle formulas if they have sensitive skin.
- Warm socks, slippers, or a shawl or lap blanket: Especially if you or someone in the family has the skill to make these items by hand, consider sharing them with seniors. Even elderly folks living in warmer climates like Florida or Arizona can get chilled and will appreciate these homemade gifts.
- Simple decorations: Try to send festive holiday decorations that are easy to hang or assemble. Simple garlands made of paper, yarn or other lightweight materials are easy to ship and easy to string along headboards, or over doors. Small wreaths or swags can be hung on doors or door handles. Window decals or faux, battery-powered votive candles are great ways to spread cheer and brighten rooms without violating any senior living lease stipulations.
Send holiday senior care packages early
We know how busy it can get around this time of year: try to send something off to your loved one early but remember “Better late than never” is true (provided you’re not sending perishables). Your loved one will almost certainly forgive a care package that missed the holiday date. If the holiday is a gift-giving holiday, try to include it with your care package. If you can’t, simply make it clear that this was a “Thinking of you!” package and that the gift is arriving separately.
Send care packages at least once or twice a year
If you can spare a few moments to put together and ship a care package every month, more power to you! But for many, it can be difficult to remember this kind of task, especially if your loved one is difficult to shop for or you want to avoid simply sending impersonal kick knacks. An occasional care package of thoughtful goodies assembled will be better received than constant boxes of not-so-welcome stuff.