The holiday season fills everyone with joy as it is a time to spend with family and friends. Gift giving is a holiday tradition, but it sometimes might be difficult to decide what to get a loved one dealing with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends considering the stage of cognitive decline your loved one is dealing with while shopping for presents. For individuals with mild Alzheimer’s, you could buy them presents which are similar to gifts you would give to people without dementia. For individuals with moderate to severe stages of Alzheimer’s it would be beneficial to buy sensory stimulating gifts to help preserve fading memories.
Here is a list of gifts you could give to your loved one based on the stage of Alzheimer’s (or any type of dementia) your loved one is experiencing:
Music: Buy your loved one music which they enjoy.
Photo Album: In today’s world, photos are stored and shared digitally. However, making a physical scrapbook will help your loved grasp on to memories as they will physically be able to touch the photos.
Memory Phone: This phone is specifically designed to store photos as well as emergency contacts of loved ones.
Magnetic Post-It Notes: These are great to help your loved one remember what events there are for the day. You can also custom order these magnets to look like your loved one’s favorite animal or be a family picture.
Diary: Your loved one will be able to record memorable events from that day. You can get these pocket sized so your loved one can carry it around wherever they go.
Erasable Whiteboards: These can be used to label key rooms in the house. You and your loved one can decorate them in any way that you desire.
Memory Calendar: Fill this calendar with pictures of family members and friends. Write down important dates such as birthdays or family outings so your loved one will have a physical reminder.
Games: Intellectual games are a great way to stimulate brain activity. Word searches, crossword puzzles, sudoku, chess, or the rubick's cube are a great way to keep your loved one engaged.
Clocks: A clock with the time, day of the week, and date can be very beneficial to individuals dealing with the mild stage of dementia.
Automatic Medication Dispenser: This will help make sure that your loved one takes their medication on time every day. It can even give your loved one a verbal reminder to take their medication. If the medication is not taken out of the dispenser it will notify an emergency contact.
A Family Activity: People dealing with dementia slowly start to lose their memory. That’s why it’s important to make the most of every minute spent with them. Family outings such as a picnic, a trip to the amusement park, or even a visit to the beach would make the perfect holiday gift. Give your loved one something to celebrate.
Moderate to Late Stages:
Clothes: You could get your loved one a bathrobe, or a fluffy blanket in their favorite color. Lap blankets for people with wheelchairs are specifically made so that they don’t drag on the floor or get caught in the wheel.Sweat suits, loose fitting clothing and shoes with Velcro straps can make it an easy process to help dress and undress your loved one.
Music: Music from your loved one’s childhood or early teenage years can stimulate their sensory nerves. Studies have shown that music reminds individuals dealing with dementia of positive feelings. It will make them feel more comfortable in the environment that they are in.
Stuffed Animals: Gift your loved one their favorite stuffed animal for their comfort.
Tracking System: If your loved one tends to wander, this would be the perfect gift for them. You can connect it with your smartphone and it will give you live updates of the exact location of your loved one and will also alert you if they leave the designated area.
Medical Identification Bracelet: This bracelet contains your loved one’s name, medical condition, and emergency contact information. If your loved one wanders off, someone who finds them will know who to contact.
Emergency Service Enrollment: Enroll your loved one in a program that can help bring them back home if they get lost. One program is called MedicAlert Safe Return which is tailored toward people with dementia.
The holidays are about spending time with your loved one so make your gift thoughtful and add a personalized touch. The greatest gift you can give your loved is being there for them. It’s the thought that counts.