Alzheimer’s & Dementia Gift Ideas

December 19, 2016 - Ann Napoletan

When my mother was alive, every year as the holidays approached I found myself struggling to come up with gift ideas for her. She was living with Alzheimer’s, and I wanted to get something useful that she would enjoy. Not something that would end up in a drawer or closet never to be seen again. However, as her dementia progressed, the options dwindled, requiring more and more creativity.

The good news is that in recent years, there’s been an increase in items designed specifically with dementia-related needs in mind. In fact, a simple search on Amazon yields many great products; search for “Dementia Products” or “Dementia Gifts.”  There are also online stores such as The Alzheimer’s Store and Best Alzheimer’s Products that specialize in these products.

When shopping, look for:

  • Items that are stage appropriate. Don’t buy a 1,500-piece jigsaw puzzle for someone in the moderate-to-late stage. Instead, look for puzzles with 12 to 36 large pieces designed specifically for people living with dementia.
  • Things related to old hobbies, interests, or even their career. For instance, someone who loves animals might enjoy a coffee table book filled with fun photographs of dogs or cats.
  • Items and activities that promote sense of purpose, creative expression, and use of stage-appropriate cognitive abilities.
  • Items that help your loved one maintain a sense of independence.

Choose one or two gifts that you think will be a hit. Too many packages may be overwhelming and could lead to agitation rather than enjoyment.  It’s also a good idea to avoid opening gifts with a big crowd. Instead, set aside some special quiet time with your loved one and exchange presents with no more than two or three people at once.

Keep your expectations reasonable. If they aren’t interested in the gift, set it aside and try again later. The key to enjoying the holidays is flexibility. My biggest disappointments came when I painted a picture of the perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas in my mind. Things may not be quite the way they used to be, or even the way you wish they were, but try to focus on what you have rather than what has been lost. Treasure these moments, and remember that the best gifts you can give are time, love, and affection.

Below you will find some ideas listed to help jumpstart your shopping list.

Just for Fun

Creative Expression

Around the House

Cozy & Comfortable

  • Fluffy bathrobe
  • Soft blanket or afghan
  • Heated throw
  • Warm socks
  • Slippers with nonskid bottom
  • Lotion
  • Essential oil diffuser and lavender, lemon, or peppermint essential oil

Reminiscence

  • Memory book, scrapbook, or memory box
  • Digital frame loaded with favorite photos
  • Framed photos
  • Coffee table picture books related to a favorite pastime or memory
  • Conversation cards

Sensory

Ann Napoletan is Founder of Marilyn's Legacy, dedicated to increasing Alzheimer's awareness and raising funds to fight this disease and support caregivers. She is also the founding moderator of the UsAgainstAlzheimer's Caregiver Support Group

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