The holiday season is a time of joy and coming together – the perfect time of the year to spend with loved ones, have fun with family and friends, and show the people who matter to you how much you care for them and how happy you are to have them in your life. And what better way to do that than to give your dear ones thoughtful gifts that convey your affection and appreciation for them.
Finding the perfect gift may not be easy – especially when you’re looking for a gift for someone who is in need of dementia or Alzheimer’s care. People living with the disease may not be able to use (or may no longer enjoy) many of the items they would have liked before. The options dwindle as the condition progresses and finding an appropriate gift becomes a real challenge.
Yet, a meaningful, useful, and heartfelt gift can be therapeutic for someone with dementia – it brings comfort and cheer, provides positive mental stimulation, and helps the person maintain a sense of independence and dignity.
But how do you choose the right present? What should you give someone with dementia? Here are some insightful gift ideas for Alzheimer’s patients to help you find the best present for your loved one with the disease.
What to Look for When Shopping for Gifts for People with Dementia
The best gifts for seniors with dementia are reminiscent of love and family. Yet, it all depends on the person’s character traits, lifestyle, and environment. You should choose a gift based on the personality, habits, abilities, and preferences of your loved one. Look for:
- Items that are related to old hobbies and interests (or even to your loved one’s career) – sports memorabilia, craft items, professional magazines, music discs, etc. Even if your friend or relative can no longer participate in their once favorite activities, such things are certain to bring them pleasure and happy memories;
- Items that are related to your loved one’s home town and childhood – a book in their mother tongue, an old photograph of their birth town, a game they used to play with their friends back in the day, etc. People struggling with dementia usually have vivid memories of the past and such gifts will feel very personal and heartwarming;
- Items that promote creative expression and give a sense of accomplishment – puzzles, craft supplies, books, etc.;
- Items that help your loved one maintain an independent life – calendar clocks, picture phones, automatic medication dispensers, etc.;
- Items that can make your loved one’s life easier – automatic nightlights, comfortable clothes and shoes, gift cards for services and meals, etc.;
- Items that are appropriate for the stage of the disease your friend or family member is currently in – gifts for people with mild dementia can be similar to what you would have given them if they didn’t have the disorder, but in later stages of the disease it’s important to pick sensory stimulating gifts that could bring back some of their memories or comforting gifts that could soothe their anxieties and make them feel better.
Whether your loved one is in the early, middle, or late stage of dementia, you’ll certainly want to get them something useful that they would enjoy. Below are some gift ideas for Alzheimer’s patients by stage that can help you find an appropriate Christmas present for a relative or friend with the disease this holiday season.
Gifts for Dementia Patients by Stages of the Disease
There is a great difference in the abilities and level of memory loss in people at different stages of dementia. When searching for a gift for someone living with the disease, you need to be careful to pick a present that matches their needs and current condition.
Gifts for Early Stage Dementia
In the early stage of the disease, it’s important to keep your loved one active and socially engaged. Opt for gifts that provide mental stimulation and promote a sense of independence and self-worth:
- Thought-provoking games and activities – strategy games; medium difficulty jigsaw puzzles; books with medium difficulty riddles, crosswords, Sudoku, word searches, etc.;
- Books reflecting your loved one’s interests;
- Audio books (along with an easy-to-use player);
- DVDs of classic movies, television shows, or concerts from your loved one’s youth (or from a specific era they like);
- Tickets to a movie, play, concert, sporting event, or other cultural events;
- A membership to a library, health club, or any other local club where your loved one can meet people and enjoy their favorite activities;
- Craft supplies – embroidery kits, plastic model kits, modeling clay, paints, etc.
Such gifts help your loved one maintain their abilities and slow the progression of the disease. They bring pleasure and fun, give a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and encourage the mind.
Gifts for Middle Stage Dementia or Alzheimer’s
As the disease progresses, it becomes more and more difficult for the affected person to process and remember new information and to perform simple everyday tasks. In this stage, it’s best to give practical gifts that will make your loved one’s life easier and will keep their minds active:
- Family photo calendar – A personalized calendar with birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and other special days identified. You can add pictures to months and specific days to remind your loved one what special event is celebrated on that date;
- Photo albums with pictures of family and friends, labeled with the name and relationship of the person to your loved one (such as “Lara Sanders, high school friend” or “Brian Thompson, cousin”);
- Digital photo frame set to automatically scroll through meaningful pictures (pre-loaded into a memory stick);
- Large digital clock that highlights the time, date, and day of the week;
- Picture phone – A large telephone that allows you to program several phone numbers of important people into the device (each number corresponds to a button of the phone) and put photos of these people on the corresponding buttons, making it easy for your loved one to reach out to family members and friends;
- Automatic medication dispenser – Pill dispensers keep medication doses locked away until the moment they need to be taken. They come with several different functions, including the option to verbally remind your loved one to take their medication and then automatically dispense the correct dosage at the appropriate time;
- Gift cards for meals, house cleaning services, or other services your loved one may need or enjoy;
- Comfortable and easy to put on and remove clothes and shoes in the style and color that your loved one prefers;
- Massage products, supplies, and accessories;
- Easy-to-use mp3 players or CDs with your loved one’s favorite music (or a one-button radio tuned to their favorite station);
- Activity boards, aprons, or pillows;
- Coloring books and other simple craft activities;
- Erasable white boards to list reminders and important information.
Gifts for Late Stage Alzheimer’s Patients
In the late stages of the disease, the best gifts for someone with Alzheimer’s are safety products and items that provide sensory stimulation and bring back pleasant memories:
- Fidget toys – soft, rubberized pieces that can be twisted and turned around;
- Lifelike stuffed animals – cuddling and stroking the soft, furry toys will help reduce stress, soothe agitation, and ease anxieties;
- Soft blanket or shawl in a favorite color;
- Cardigans, housecoats, robes and other comfy clothes;
- Slippers with non-skid soles and warm socks;
- Large framed family photos or pictures of favorite places;
- Comfort food and special treats – the familiar tastes and smells will bring your loved one pleasure and will have a strong therapeutic effect;
- Scented lotions and other pampering toiletries that will help your loved one relax and will evoke happy memories and feelings;
- Medical identification bracelet to give you peace of mind if your elderly family member tends to wander.
Whatever gifs you pick for your loved one with dementia, keep in mind that too many packages can be overwhelming and may lead to agitation instead of joy – limit the number of presents to one or two items that you think will be useful and enjoyable. Avoid opening gifts in the presence of a big crowd – spend some personal time with your loved one and choose a quiet, cheerful moment to give them your gift. Savor the moment and remember – there are no better gifts than time and affection.
Yet, you may not always be able to be there for your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. This is where Assisting Hands Home Care comes in. Our licensed, experienced, and compassionate caregivers will provide your family member with excellent Alzheimer’s and dementia care and friendly companionship. They will make sure the senior’s living environment is safe, quiet, and well-maintained, will engage your loved one in enjoyable conversations and games, will take them out for walks, will assist them with their daily routine, and will ensure that they take their medications on time. You will rest assured that your loved one is safe, happy, and well taken care of.
Call us at (305) 425-1835 for more information about our dementia care services in Miami Dade County, FL, and the surrounding areas.