The holidays are well upon us and if you’re a busy caregiver like me, you run into the same conundrum every season: what can I gift my loved one with dementia?
Every stage of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias offers new challenges and makes gift giving a tough decision. To help you brainstorm your list, I’ve separated gift ideas for different stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Hopefully, you’ll find something that brings delight to both you and your loved one.
Mild Cognitive Impairment or Mild Alzheimer’s
People with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or Mild Alzheimer’s may have minor memory issues or difficulty placing names and faces. Overall, they are still able to enjoy many of the same activities as before their diagnosis. Here are some gift ideas for loved ones in this stage:
The photo album or book is always a cherished item. Snapfish is an easy way to make a book online and have it shipped to you or your loved one.
If and when your loved one begins to have trouble placing names and faces, instead of quizzing them with photos, adopt an approach of storytelling through photos and let them join in as they feel comfortable.
Turn a gift into an opportunity for quality family time. Choose games you can play in teams if possible.
Suspend is a fun game of stacking and balancing suitable for kids and people of any age and can help challenge cognitive skills in a non-intimidating way.
I love this Carrom Shuffleboard setup that can be played indoors or outdoors and will be enjoyed by everyone. Easy to learn and play.
Adult Coloring Books
Coloring can be a soothing activity at any age. And, it can be something adults and children enjoy doing side by side. Many adults with or without dementia find coloring to be a stress-relieving activity allowing for creative expression.
Loved ones with moderate Alzheimer’s begin to have more difficulty managing tasks and remembering events. At times, they may experience significant confusion, but are still independent in most tasks. Take a look at these gifts they may enjoy:
This Wooden Tangram puzzle was designed specifically for people with dementia (but has no mention of that on the product or packaging). It comes with templates to help guide the user to success, encourages fine motor and cognitive skills and is an enjoyable way to pass the time.
The Tangle Therapy Relax is part anxiety-reducer, and part exercise-inducer. It’s good for relaxing the mind while simultaneously working the muscles and joints of the wrist and hand. This gadget gives busy hands something calming and satisfying to engage with.
Jigsaw puzzles are enjoyable at any age, but how about a personalized puzzle? Consider taking a beloved family photo and creating a jigsaw puzzle for your loved one to solve.
Unfortunately for the last two years, this is the stage my mother has been in. Some birthdays and Mother’s days I choose to forgo the gifts and just spend as much quality time with her as possible. You may find yourself in the same boat. But when the mood strikes and you want to give your loved one something tangible and special, here are some options:
Fidget Blanket or Toy
If you’re familiar with Alzheimer’s, you know how common fidgeting can be. Restless fingers and hands with nothing to work on can create feelings of anxiety and even depression. Fidget toys or blankets offer those with dementia something to keep their hands busy with, and the tactile sensations can be very enjoyable. There are many of these items on the market, here are a few:
Now that tasks such as dressing and toileting are becoming increasingly difficult, one way to maintain some dignity is with adaptive clothing. Many designers are producing clothing geared towards those with disabilities with features such as Velcro and magnetic fastening, elastic waistbands, and stretchy material for ease of donning and doffing.
Ditch the bright yellow non-skid hospital socks, but stay safe, warm and fashionable in these non-skid fleece slipper socks.
It’s true, the robots are taking over. But they’re also offering joy and companionship. Take this Joy for All Companion Pet built specifically for those with dementia. There’s nothing quite like a snuggle from a kitten or puppy, but this is a close second. This cat purrs and even responds to motion and touch like a real pet. The reviews are simply glowing over this product and the way it fosters a sense of love and companionship.
Soft Robe or Blanket
If all else fails, nothing says I love you like a plush robe or blanket to snuggle in.
Any other ideas? Feel free to add in the comments!