6 items every nursing home resident should have

Elderly man, who lives in a nursing home, working on putting together a puzzle.

If your loved one is moving to a nursing home, meaningful personal items will help them feel more comfortable in their transition to a new space.

Certain belongings can provide a sense of well-being as your loved one is surrounded by items of significance.

Here are the top six items we have found that provide an ongoing, positive impact on our residents:

  1. Digital photo albums or photographs: Images of family, old pets and memorable times serve as reminders of love and help start conversations with staff and visitors. Photos also help decrease loneliness and depression.
  2. A favorite blanket: It’s a welcome reminder of the warmth of home. Make sure to include a soft, warm comforter or quilt for their bed and a smaller lap blanket or throw blanket for the times when they’ll be sitting in a recliner or wheelchair.
  3. A favorite chair: Another comforting tie to home. There is more flexibility for bringing pieces of furniture if your loved one is moving into a larger space.
  4. Music of a favorite singer or era: Make sure to bring a CD player, MP3 player loaded with their favorite music or a smart speaker. Headphones might also be helpful if they will have a roommate. Hearing musical favorites not only triggers emotions and memories, but it’s believed to fight loneliness, anxiety and depression. It can be especially helpful for those with memory issues.
  5. A Bible or other item of spiritual significance: If faith plays an important role in your loved one’s life, these types of items will allow them to share their beliefs and values with others. When your loved one lives in a Society community, they’ll be able to participate in a variety of spiritual ministries, including daily devotions, Bible studies and worship services.
  6. Items of personal achievement: These items can include military decorations, certificates of achievement or sports trophies. Sharing stories about successes, hobbies or involvement in the community can help spark conversations and new friendships by revealing shared interests with other residents and staff. These items also symbolize what your loved one holds dear.

When helping your loved one pack for their move, you’ll want to encourage a mix of items that reflect their personality and have practical use.

Before a move, ask an administrator at the facility what types of items are allowed and what the policies are for lost or missing belongings.

Key items include:

  • TV, DVD player or tablet
  • Favorite clothing
  • Favorite shampoos, soaps and lotions
  • Favorite books
  • Special artwork or posters
  • Stuffed animal or doll
  • Sports memorabilia
  • Small items from a collection
  • A wall calendar. Make sure it includes clearly written birthdays, holidays, visits and important events for your loved one to reference. Even if they have difficulty keeping track of time, the staff and their visitors might be able to remind them of upcoming events and activities.
  • A book for visitors to sign and write what they did during their time with your loved one. This can provide a helpful point of reference for family, friends and other visitors.

If your loved one has hobbies or favorite pastimes, there are items that we encourage you to bring to help them stay engaged and active. Hobby items are easiest to manage and store if they’re in labeled bins or totes.

Hobby items include:

  • Art or craft supplies. These could include knitting, crocheting or painting items, as well as adult coloring books and colored pencils.
  • Jigsaw puzzles, word-finds and crossword puzzles. These are used often during colder winter months.
  • Decks of cards and board games. These are great for passing the time and playing with family members.
  • Stationery supplies. These are important for those who like to write letters, even if it’s just occasionally. Supplies could include pens, pencils, a notepad or cards, an address book, return address labels and stamps.

Tips for keeping track of items:

  • Make sure to mark all items with your loved one’s name and room number. Labels work for most items, but permanent marker is best for clothing and fabrics.
  • Sticky notes or labels are great for helping your loved one learn their new surroundings. These can go on items such as a help button in their room, phone numbers and more.
  • Ask if belongings can be inventoried at move-in. If this isn’t possible, you can put together your own inventory list. Ask the admissions coordinator to sign it on move-in day.

If you notice after a few weeks that your loved one doesn’t need or want something brought, you can remove it to make space for other items of importance.

Your loved one’s new home should be a place where they can live a fulfilling life while receiving compassionate, quality care. Your thoughtfulness when preparing for their move will go a long way in making the transition as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

Find out how we work with you to help your loved one thrive in our long-term care communities.

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