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Marjorie P. Lee Senior Living Blog

Holiday Gift Ideas for a Senior Loved One with Dementia

Posted by Kristin Davenport

Dec 21, 2018 3:00:50 PM

elderly-present 

Do you have someone with dementia on your holiday shopping list this year? If so, you may be worried about finding the perfect present. Factor in the progressive nature of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and choosing something appropriate can be even more challenging.

To that end, we’ve created a holiday guide to gifts for seniors with dementia broken out by stage of the disease. Whether you're looking for something personal, practical, or in between, we've got a gift idea for you.

 

Gifts for People with Early Stage Dementia

“In the early stage of Alzheimer's, most people function independently. He or she may still drive, take part in social activities, volunteer and even work,” says the Alzheimer’s Association. So while they may do things differently or may need some extra help with things, their day-to-day lives may not change significantly.  

Potential gifts for people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may include:

  • Games and puzzles

  • Brain teasers, word searches, and other activity books

  • Crafts

  • CDs and music

  • Television shows and movies

  • A family photo album, calendar, scrapbook or another reminiscence gift

  • An Amazon Echo or other voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant

  • A tablet for keeping in touch with friends and family members

  • A smartphone pre-programmed with the photos and contact information of family members and friends

  • A houseplant

  • A family tree

An added benefit of getting a mind-stimulating gift for someone with early-stage Alzheimer’s: Research suggests that it can slow the progression of the disease while boosting cognition.

 

Gifts for People with Middle Stage Dementia

“During the middle stages of Alzheimer's, damage to the brain can make it difficult to express thoughts and perform routine tasks. You may notice the person with Alzheimer's jumbling words, having trouble dressing, getting frustrated or angry, or acting in unexpected ways, such as refusing to bathe,” says the Alzheimer’s Association.

In addition to holiday gifts that stimulate the memory and help seniors feel connected with the world around them, appropriate presents may also be designed to support your aging loved one’s independence and autonomy.

Potential ideas include the following:

  • Adult coloring books and paint with water kits

  • An oversized wall calendar

  • Assisted listening headphones

  • A large clock demonstrating both the time and date

  • Automated lights to help with mobility in the dark

  • A large whiteboard displayed with key information

  • An automatic medication dispenser


Gifts for People with Late Stage Dementia

“As the disease advances, the needs of the person living with Alzheimer's will change and deepen. A person with late-stage Alzheimer's usually has difficulty eating and swallowing; needs assistance walking and eventually is unable to walk; needs full-time help with personal care; [and] is vulnerable to infections, especially pneumonia,” says the Alzheimer’s Association.

As such, appropriate gifts may be those aimed at supporting your loved one’s comfort, including the following:

  • A fluffy bathrobe

  • A soft throw, weighted blanket or photo blanket

  • Comfortable, specialized clothing for dressing and undressing with ease

  • A stuffed animal, doll or “pet

  • Scented lotion

  • Favorite foods

Also, keep in mind that many of the personalized gifts listed for people with early-stage Alzheimer's are also suitable for people with middle- and late-stage dementia, as they can continue to enjoy these things through the ongoing changes.

Suggests the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI): "Gifts that center on reminiscence are appropriate for people at all stages of the disease. For example, if your loved one grew up in the ‘40s, you could have a theme gift with music from that era (preferably including a favorite song or artist), photos of your family from that time period, and pictures of celebrities, clothing, and architecture from that era."


"Gifts that center on reminiscence are appropriate for people at all stages of the disease. For example, if your loved one grew up in the ‘40s, you could have a theme gift with music from that era (preferably including a favorite song or artist), photos of your family from that time period, and pictures of celebrities, clothing, and architecture from that era."


Just because a loved one has dementia doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the season. These gifts can help spread Christmas year while simultaneously enriching the quality of life for recipients with dementia. And remember that the most meaningful gifts of all for people with Alzheimer’s disease cost nothing: Time with loved ones.

Echoes CPI: "Spending a couple hours going for a walk in a favorite location, playing a simple game, singing familiar songs, preparing and enjoying a meal together, working in the garden together, looking through scrapbooks or photos, laughing, and ending the day with a big hug is the best gift of all!"

 


dementia guide - marjorie p lee

 

Kristin Davenport

Written by: Kristin Davenport

Kristin Davenport is the Director of Communications for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Kristin leads ERS’ efforts to share stories that delight and inspire through social media, online content, annual reports, magazines, newsletters, public relations, and events. Kristin earned her BFA in graphic design from Wittenberg University. She joined ERS after a 25 year career as a visual journalist and creative director in Cincinnati. Kristin has a passion for making Cincinnati a dementia-inclusive city. She is a Lead SAIDO Learning Supporter and a member of the Wellbeing Team at ERS. Kristin and her husband Alex live in Lebanon, Ohio with their 2 daughters. She also serves as a Trustee and the Secretary of the Lebanon Food Pantry.

Topics: Marjorie P Lee, dementia, gift ideas for seniors with dementia

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