Care Baskets For the Elderly--Life Essentials

Millions of senior citizens live below the poverty line. This time of year they face the possibility of a long winter, without the means to go out and stock up their homes with useful necessities. Countless others are housebound due to illness, disabilities, or lack of transportation. 

If you are looking for a meaningful community project, why not assemble a team of volunteers to help make care packages for these elders? 

To make beneficial care baskets, you just need to ask yourself: 

What would you need to get by from day to day if you couldn't afford (or weren't physically able) to go shopping?

We are so used to being able to run out and get whatever little necessity we might need, (or just order it online!) that is very hard to think of our true needs. 

In fact, I had to enlist the help of a few seniors and caregivers to make this list. Here are the items we came up with.

These are all non-food items that a person needs, but may not be able to get for themselves. If you are interested in making a food basket, then read my post on ideas for care baskets the elderly with edible items. 

Household Items: 

  • Laundry soap
  • Dish soap
  • Trash bags
  • Disposable plates, cups, eating utensils for times they don't feel like cleaning up
  • Hand soap refill
  • Light bulbs
  • Napkins
  • Paper towels
  • Coffee filters
  • Toilet paper
  • All purpose cleaner
  • Stamps and envelopes
  • Sanitizing wipes or spray

Personal Toiletries and Essentials;

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash or bar soap
  • Nail sets
  • Disposable razors and shaving cream
  • Dental care supplies (toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash, or denture cleanser, denture adhesive and mouthwash)
  • Deodorant
  • Cologne or aftershave
  • Lip balm
  • Hand lotion
  • New hair brush and comb

First Aid:

  • Cold remedies
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Kleenex
  • Cough drops
  • Bandages
  • Peroxide
  • Rubbing Alcohol

Pet Care: 

  • Food for dogs, cats, birds, fish or other pets
  • Kitty litter
  • Pet Shampoo
  • Flea Treatments

Not Necessities, But Nice "Luxuries" 

Along with the essentials mentioned above, a few people chimed in with some items that seniors may have, but might be dirty, ragged, broken, or in some way unusable. 

These may not be the necessities of life, but they are the small luxuries we all enjoy, and they often need to be replaced: 

  • Heating pad or hot water bottle
  • Clean toilet bowl brushes
  • Decent dishtowels
  • Can opener (sharp and easy to grip)
  • Coffee maker
  • Food storage items
  • Good broom
  • Vacuum cleaner bags/filters
  • Mop that is easy to use with arthritis (butterfly or 'Squeegee' style)

A Helping Hand

They also mentioned some favors that many elders would cherish more than objects. 

  • Help reading and understanding their mail
  • Help writing letters (for those with arthritis or poor vision)
  • A ride to the pharmacy or grocery store
  • A ride to doctor's appointments
  • A person to check in on them when they are sick
  • Someone who will take their pets to the vet when they need check-ups or medication. 

For a basket or container, choose a durable plastic tote, canvas bin or other easy-to-clean, reusable item. Everyone can use some extra storage! 

Here are few ideas for some nice non-necessity additions that can brighten someone's day: 

  • Puzzle books
  • Reading books
  • Scented candles
  • Nice easy-to-grip ink pen
  • Calculator with large screen
  • Matches and toothpicks
  • Mixed CD (if they have a player) 
  • Jigsaw puzzle
  • Flashlight
  • Notepad
  • Magnetic grocery list
  • Socks
  • Gift card
  • Greeting card

Hopefully, this will help inspire others to get busy this season and help the elderly in their community. For more about charity and the elderly, check out this post; 

If you have any more ideas about what to include in a care package for the elderly, please share in the comments, and I will add it to the post!