Unique and Enriching Gifts for Seniors with Alzheimer’s or Other Forms of Dementia
As memories start to fade from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, life can seem to shrink and it’s easy for the family to focus on what’s been lost. In reality, there’s still a lot of life ahead and moments worth celebrating.
When your loved one’s birthday or a holiday comes up, it can be hard to figure out appropriate gifts for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. At its core, gift giving is a way to create memories. But gifts for people with dementia can also help bring back some of your loved one’s memories.
Before selecting a gift, The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that you first consider what stage of the disease your loved one is in before you go shopping. For example, in the early stages of Alzheimers, a gift may not be very different from what you’d give your loved one before their diagnosis. But a gift that stimulates their senses is more important during the later stages of the disease.
This blog will offer suggestions on gifts for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.
In the early stage of Alzheimer’s, a person may function independently. They may still drive, work and be part of social activities. Despite this, they may start to feel like they’re having memory lapses, such as forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday objects.
Gifts for seniors with early-stage dementia include:
- Family photo albums – Look through family photos together and talk about what your loved one remembers.
- Day clock – Shows the current time, day of the week, date, and AM/PM on a large LED display.
- Simple board game – Choose easy and familiar games – think of Chutes and Ladders, Checkers, or Dominoes. Complex games can be confusing for them and difficult for you to explain.
- Shoes with velcro straps – Seniors with dementia can forget the steps involved with shoelace tying and lack the finger dexterity required. Velcro straps can be easily tightened or loosened.
- Bouquet of flowers – Fresh flowers can brighten up your parent’s room.
- Back-scrubbing brush – This makes baths or showers easier.
- Wide-brimmed sun hat or warm mittens – Depending on where you live, a weather-appropriate gift could be something they use every day.
- Key bracelet – Tuck a set of keys inside the bracelet for safekeeping and engrave the outside with your loved one’s name and your phone number.
- Art from grandchildren – Invite their grandkids to draw, color, or paint a picture to be put up in your loved one’s room.
- Classic movies and TV – Watching their favorite movies and TV shows can help stimulate your loved one.
- Music – Songs from when they were a child/teenager/young adult will help your family member reminisce.
- Your company – Your mom or dad will always appreciate spending time with you.
Moderate Alzheimer’s is typically the longest stage and can last for many years. During this stage, the dementia symptoms can be more pronounced. Your loved one may have greater difficulty performing tasks, such as paying bills, but they may still remember significant details about their life.
Gifts for people with middle-stage Alzheimer’s include:
- Coloring books – Holding crayons will help your mom or dad maintain fine motor skills.
- Home-cooked meal – Ensure that your loved one eats all the food in one sitting. Note: Take what isn’t eaten back home with you. Leftovers may attract bugs.
- Puzzles: Bigger puzzle pieces will be better for older hands to handle and manipulate.
- Automatic pill dispenser – Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia can require a lot of prescription medications. However, family members can easily forget to take them. An automatic pill dispenser can help with medication management. After the pill dispenser is loaded, set the alarm. When the alarm sounds, your loved one will be reminded to take their pills.
- Medic alert bracelet (or necklace) – Engrave the bracelet with your parent’s medical condition.
In the event of an emergency, medical responders will know what to do.
- Something handmade – Maybe your loved one would enjoy a knitted scarf or a personalized bird feeder for outside their window. This could even be something you work on together.
- Concert tickets – Music is an important part of dementia care and can help you connect with your loved one.
- Bath soaps, lotions and fragrances – Dry skin is a problem for older adults, so pick out a lotion in their favorite scent.
- Large print books – Larger print is much easier for older eyes to read. The two of you can read and enjoy the stories together.
- Automatic nightlights – To help with safety, these lights can come on as soon as it gets dark.
In the final stage of Alzheimer’s, your loved one could lose the ability to respond to their environment, carry on a conversation and control their movements. They may still say words or phrases, but communicating becomes more difficult.
At this stage, sensory stimulating gifts become important and can include:
- Stuffed animal – As with board games, choose a familiar new “pet” like a kitten or puppy.
- Weighted laptop pad – Placed on the lap, this weighted pad can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Because these pads are portable, you can bring them along to use in the car or while waiting in a doctor’s office.
- Watercolors – Late-stage dementia can make it difficult for your loved ones to express themselves with words, but they can often communicate well through art.
- Terry cloth bathrobe – Warm, fuzzy, and and easy to slip into after bathing.
- Slippers – Look for a pair of slippers with non-slip soles for easy on and off footwear.
- Blanket or duvet – As with a laptop pad, look for a heavier blanket. This can be more calming.
- Small portable stereo – Music is a powerful stimulant for seniors with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Include headphones so as not to disturb other residents or staff.
- Adaptive clothing – An example of this is open-back shirts, which are struggle-free.
Learn More About Memory Care at Laurel Circle
At Laurel Circle we provide an individualized care plan in a secure, private and homelike environment. Through this person-centered support, residents can engage in activities and programs that are meaningful, fulfilling, and provide a true sense of purpose and belonging. To learn more about our Alzheimer’s and dementia care, call us at 908-595-6500.