Looking for gift ideas for your loved one with dementia? You’re in the right place!
There are many types of dementia— Vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy Body dementia, Korsackoff syndrome, etc. Dementia affects three areas of the brain which go on to impact language, memory, and decision-making. Dementia will manifest itself differently in each individual and each type of dementia can be distinguished by unique symptoms. However, one thing all types of dementia share in common is that they get progressively worse over time. One of the most common ways medical professionals categorize the dementia experience is through early-stage (mild), middle-stage (moderate), and late-stage (severe).
When looking for dementia gift ideas, it is important to take into account their symptoms and what stage they are at in the progression of their disease. No matter how severe someone’s condition may be, giving a thoughtful gift is never a waste. Sometimes gift-giving is just as, if not more, therapeutic for the giver as it is for the one receiving it. Here are some ideas to inspire the next birthday, Christmas, Mothers Day/Fathers Day, or ‘just because’ gift you give your loved one with dementia:
Early-Stage Gift Ideas
Digital Photo Frame: Digital photo frames are a fun way to have good memories on display in your loved one’s home. The NixPlay photo frame allows friends and relatives to directly upload photos and videos to your loved one’s frame from wherever they are. The frame updates in real-time with WiFi connection. Have family who live long-distance? This is a great way for them to keep your loved one updated with pictures of the grandbabies, travels, pets, etc.
Activity Books: Cognitive stimulation is really important at this stage. Activity books for coloring, crossword puzzles, word jumble, or other strategy games are a great idea.
Memory Box: There is a lot of room for creativity when it comes to memory boxes. Whether it’s a small, old cigar box or a good-sized suitcase, fill it with memories your aging loved one can sort through. Involve your loved one in the process. Together, find photos, knick-knacks, and other ephemera that will stimulate old memories and hobbies. Going through memory boxes can be a great way for care staff to get to know your loved one, too!
A Date: One of the best things you can offer is your time. People in the early stages of dementia are usually aware that their memory is going to deteriorate. Knowing this, they want to soak up all the time they can with friends and family. For many, it is important to live as fully as possible in the days to come. Think of the things your loved one adores or has a special interest in and plan a date around it.
Adult Day Care Services: Most communities have senior centers or adult day cares that provide a variety of services. For example, a program of activities, social time, transport, health services, memory care, etc. Paying for your loved one to attend something like this during the week could give them a sense of independence. Additionally, it can boost mental health, avoid social isolation, and help them meet other people going through the same thing. Look for a service that has adult day care software like StoriiCare, which allows you to contribute to your loved one’s secure online profile and receive notifications throughout the day.
Middle-Stage Gift Ideas
Amazon Echo: The possibilities with Amazon’s ‘Alexa’ are endless! From being able to set reminders and call loved ones without buttons or remembering numbers to asking Alexa what the day or time is if confused and turning on lights via-voice command. The device can even provide entertainment like playing music or audiobooks to reading off the news and telling jokes.
Motion Sensor Night Light: The gift of light is no small thing when you wake up feeling disoriented in the night or are prone to falling.
Automatic Medication Dispenser: There are a lot of automatic medication dispensers on the market. For that reason, make a list of the features that would benefit your loved one the most. As a result, it will make the process of narrowing down options easier.
Tickets to a Dementia-Friendly Event: Check with your local performing arts center, cinema, art museum, or library for dementia-friendly events and relaxed performances. Many of these places offer shows, workshops, or tours designed for people with dementia and their carers.
Late-Stage Gift Ideas
Bathrobe & Slippers: Someone in the late stages of dementia tends to stay home a lot. They may sleep more than usual and may have difficulty dressing or undressing. Therefore, a big fluffy bathrobe and slippers can easily pull on and off provide comfort and even a bit of luxury.
Sensory Quilt: You can make your own or purchase one! These are lap-sized blankets adorned with things like buttons, zippers, snaps, ribbons, and various textures. People with dementia often fidget or have restless hands. As a result, these blankets are a great way to provide tactile stimulation and help them feel settled.
Spa Service: Gentle touch is something aging adults are commonly lacking. This is due to losing loved ones and living in more isolated situations. A massage by a professional therapist can be a great gift that provides relaxation, soothes aches, and reduces anxiety. Additionally, think of making an appointment for your loved one to get a manicure or hair treatment. These services may make them feel like a million bucks, even if they can’t communicate it well.
Essential Oil Diffuser: The benefits of aromatherapy are plentiful. For example, lavender and chamomile have been shown to reduce anxiety and promote good sleep. Peppermint can calm a nauseous stomach. Citrus scents can increase alertness and there may be others specific to your loved one that invokes happy memories. For example, if someone grew up near forests, they might enjoy diffusing spruce or cedarwood essential oils.