A gift or personalised care package is a thoughtful way to show an elderly friend or relative that you care, as well as help support their health and wellbeing.
Read on to learn how to put together the perfect care package for an elderly relative or friend, and help them stay comfortable in their own home.
Food or nutritional snacks
As we age, our nutrition requirements change. We need more calcium to ensure our bones are strong, our bowels tend to slow down, and we may even require fewer kilojoules in general due to being less active than in our younger years. Nutrition can be neglected, especially if cooking becomes difficult.
Fresh, home-made food can not only bring a sense of warmth and comfort, but can help to boost nutritional value. Fresh fruit and vegetables (extra points if they’re home grown), natural juices and smoothies, nutritional snacks, baked goods or even ready-portioned meals for the freezer are all great ideas to include in a care package.
If your loved one still loves to cook, you could add in a few ingredients to make their favourite food or snack: chocolate chips and fresh eggs for cookies, passata for lasagne, or apples and cinnamon for a delicious pie or crumble. For extra nutrition value, you could include a canister of Sustagen or another nutritional supplement that can be easily made up or added to food during cooking.
Personal care items
Toiletries and personal care items are a great thing to include in a care package for an older friend or relative. Include useful products that will make life easier and more comfortable. Other personal care items to add to a care package could include soft towels, anti-bacterial wipes, sanitiser or incontinence products.
Find out what their favourite scent is and look for soaps, shampoo, perfumed lotions or creams that will add an extra touch to their everyday routine. Our sense of smell is a powerful trigger for emotions and memories. The olfactory bulb is the place where our brain processes smells – and it has direct connections to two areas that are tied up with memory and emotion, the amygdala and hippocampus. Studies suggest that this close connection is why our sense of smell can trigger powerful emotions and memories. Fresh flowers, scented candles or diffusers are another way to add some beautiful scents to their home, especially if they have sensitive skin and need unscented skin care products.
Games and fun activities
We all love to have a bit of fun. Add some fun to their care package in the form of jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, board games, cards or trivia kits. Books are also a thoughtful addition to any care package. Choices could range from beautiful photography books worthy of a place on their coffee table, to the latest murder mystery novel, or even an audiobook or podcast.
If they love to make things, gift a craft kit or some new materials for their next knitting or crochet project. You could also throw in a CD or USB with some relaxing or toe-tapping music to put on while crafting.
Help them stay connected
If your loved one is a little further away from family, help them feel connected with technology. If they’re interested, you could set up a profile for them on social media, or gift them an old iPhone or smartphone and teach them how to text, call and take photos.
If you’d like to make their home life easier, you could set them up with a virtual assistant such as Google Home or Amazon Echo. After some initial setup and programming, they can listen to the news, their favourite music, find out what the sports scores are or even turn their lights or television on with a simple voice command.
Take advantage of the current season or holidays that might be approaching and create a themed care package. A winter warmer care package could include things like scarves, slippers, a good book, rugs or throw blankets, plus some hot chocolate or coffee to help them feel cosy and warm.
In spring, you could gift a keen gardener with some new garden shears, seeds or seedlings, a hat or sunglasses and some new gardening gloves. At Christmas, you could pop in a few decorations or trinkets that add some sparkle to their home, plus a delicious pudding or gingerbread.
If your elderly friend or relative has grandchildren or great-grandchildren, treat them to a homemade care package created by the kids. Fill it to the brim with hand-decorated cookies, colourful drawings and cards, or hand-written letters and stories. You could also include a few photographs or frames of the little ones to keep.
Give your time
Often, the best gift is one of the most precious resources of all: time. We all lead busy lives, but there are easy ways to spend more time with your loved ones. Next time you need to go grocery shopping, take it as a chance to have one-on-one bonding time. You could share meal ideas, help them with choosing great products, and even stop for a coffee afterwards. Or if you need to take your kids to their soccer or netball game on the weekend, invite your loved one along – bring a thermos filled with a hot drink and some snacks to make it a picnic.