10 of the best gift ideas for people with dementia
Gift giving can be challenging when it’s for people living with dementia. However, it’s not impossible. There are some great ideas out there for your loved one with dementia – these are our favourites.
The holiday season is a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate – by sharing meals, exchanging gifts, and spending time together. However, for families living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, these can be tricky at times. Here are some of the best Christmas gifts that we’ve seen this year for people living with dementia – they would make excellent presents for birthdays or other occasions too.
Something warm – comfortable clothing, fidget blanket and weighted blankets
Comfort, warmth, and calmness are all easily give-able presents that will have great success with your loved ones. Comfortable clothes such as soft cardigans or pyjamas, fluffy socks, and bathrobes are all great for fighting the cold or for relaxation. Some very popular and helpful gift ideas are fidget blankets and weighted blankets. As Alzheimer’s and other dementias often cause older people to feel anxious, agitated, or have disturbed sleep, these gifts will definitely come in handy.
Weighted blankets or lap pads provide deep pressure therapy – as a result, they’re effective in reducing anxiety, calming nerves, providing comfort, and promoting deep sleep. However, you should check with your loved one’s doctor before investing in one – people with respiratory, circulatory, or temperature regulation problems may not be able to use a weighted blanket or lap pad. The standard advice for weighted blankets is to be about 10% of an older person’s body weight.
Fidget blankets or fidget quilts come in a lot of different shapes and sizes, and they provide sensory and tactile stimulation. They are often covered with different sewed-on elements, such as ties, ribbons, buttons, pom poms, zippers, and a variety of textures. These help with focusing attention, exercising hand muscles, and stimulating different senses. You can add some personal touch by sewing your own fidget quilt or by doing so with your family member living with dementia.
Something personal – photo albums, forget-me-not jewellery
Naturally, one of the biggest challenges Alzheimer’s presents is memory loss, so it’s a lovely idea to gift something personal. The present will depend on your grandparent – what they love doing, what sentimental memories you share with them, or what could remind them of you. There is no right or wrong here, as long as it’s safe to use.
Jewellery can be a beautiful present for someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. We grow older, but we never grow too old for beauty. Add a personal touch by designing or making the jewellery yourself, or indulge a bit and buy one of Shrieking Violet’s hand-crafted, forget-me-not pieces for an emotional touch.
You can also give the gift of memories. Buy a beautiful photo album, fill it with pictures from throughout the years, and label all people and places. Make sure it’s easy to navigate and it’s obvious who is featured – in the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s this can trigger great memories. Alternatively, you could also buy a digital photo frame and load it up with the same pictures.
People with dementia can also benefit from things that might trigger specific memories – such as maternal instincts, like in the case of Morleen and Lola.
Something helpful – dementia clock, irremovable identification bracelet
It can be challenging to see your loved ones go through dementia, but it’s even more challenging to live through it. You can help out by gifting useful gadgets to make your loved one’s life easier. There are different devices useful for different stages of Alzheimer’s, and as technology evolves, so do these.
You can now buy irremovable identification bracelets or location devices that can monitor your loved one’s location if they become disoriented and wander away. They might cost a bit more, but they are definitely worth the investment. At the end of the day, these are a great present for their carer too (whether that’s you or someone else), as they make everyone’s life easier.
Another great gadget is a day clock that features the time, day, month, and year in big, easily readable numbers. These can be bought almost anywhere, and they can lift the weight of uncertainty off your loved one’s shoulders.
Something soothing – companion toys, mixtapes
There are different ways to soothe anxiety – this can depend on the person, the stage they are at, or the type of nervousness that they often experience. Perfect Petzzz is a company that creates soft lifelike kittens and puppies that appear to be breathing. This can keep an anxious person calm by encouraging them to match their breathing pattern to that of the stuffed animal. They fit perfectly in someone’s lap and can promote the reduction of stress.
Music is a love language, and what better way to gift love? Compile a CD with your family member’s favourite songs or music that has emotional significance. These will encourage reminiscing and can help them relax too. Music therapy can also unlock long lost memories. For the easiest use, buy a music player that has a USB input for you to add all significant songs.
Twiddle muffs are another great way of soothing and engaging your loved one. They work similar to fidget quilts, except they come specifically as hand muffs. Not only do they keep hands warm, they also keep them busy with the bits and bobs attached inside and out. They provide stimulation activity for when your loved one feels restless, and they soothe by easing their anxiety.
Dementia can be hard for everyone involved. If you’re only just finding yourself in a situation where a loved one has begun showing signs of dementia, it’s good to be prepared.
To find out more about where you should go for initial practical advice, read our related article here.