This post was written by Gabrielle Baglino, who’s a Digital Marketing Specialist and writer at Oak Street Health. Gabrielle has several years of experience in the healthcare industry, as well as the digital media sphere.
Every gift should be thoughtfully tailored to the person who’s receiving it—and bring joy and value. While selecting a gift for someone with memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s can be challenging, why not embrace the opportunity to brighten their life and give them something they’ll enjoy?
When choosing the perfect present, consider the lifestyle of the person and their environment, your relationship with them, and the stage of their memory loss. Give them something that will show your love and care for them, as the warmth of the gesture might mean more than the gift itself. Here are some ideas to inspire you:
1. Comfortable clothing
Many patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia experience anxiety, agitation, and sleep issues, so something comforting and warm can be the perfect gift. Robes or fluffy pajamas will come in handy when it’s cold, which is especially important for those with restricted movement and less blood circulation.
2. Weighted blanket
Weighted blankets, apart from being super comforting and pleasant, provide pressure therapy and therefore promote deep sleep. They can also help reduce stress, as the pressure of the blanket may stimulate the production of the mood-boosting hormone oxytocin. Choose a blanket that is about 10% of the person’s body weight. Also, please note that weighted blankets are not advisable for people with circulatory, respiratory, or temperature regulation problems.
3. Fidget blanket
A fidget blanket makes a great present for dementia patients due to its sensory and tactile features. Individuals with memory loss often have agitation in their hands, and this provides relief and restores calm. As these blankets have many elements such as ribbons, buttons, and textures, you can add a personal touch to them by adding your loved one’s name or attaching family photos.
4. Irremovable ID bracelet
If your family member or friend with memory loss is not in an assisted living facility and they are able to go outdoors alone, an irremovable identification bracelet can be an excellent gift for them.
Older versions of these bracelets had only engraved information on them, like the name, address, and phone number of the caregiver. However, newer digital models can be paired with the caregiver’s phone number to show the location of the person wearing it. This can be incredibly important if the person is disoriented or gets lost. An alternative to these bracelets is a smartwatch with a GPS feature.
5. Coloring books for adults
Coloring can be therapeutic for people with anxiety and depression, and those with dementia can also benefit from this calming activity. It can calm a restless mind and create a state similar to that achieved while meditating, as coloring generates mindfulness and peace of mind.
It can give them a pleasurable activity to keep them busy, and provide an outlet for self-expression and a sense of accomplishment. Buy some nice markers or watercolors for the coloring books, since your loved one might want to create a beautiful end result.
Musical memories are often the least affected by Alzheimer’s disease, as this part of the brain is relatively undamaged by memory loss. Playing music for people with dementia can have huge emotional and behavioral benefits.
This activity can help them unlock special moments of their past, ease their sense of isolation, and help them connect with family and friends even when the individual has lost speech or cannot respond to others.
Pay attention to the musical preferences of the person and how they respond to certain songs. If they like the tune, play it more often and even sing to them. If your family member lives in a group home, you might want to add headphones to the gift so their musical hobby can be enjoyed without disturbing others.
7. Pillow massager
Massage therapy can benefit people with dementia, as it can increase body awareness and alertness, reduce feelings of confusion, and alleviate anxiety. A vibrating pillow massager can be a great gift, as vibration has a sensory element.
Pillow massagers can be used on any part of the body to relieve body tension and help sore muscles, and they are convenient to use. Opt for a cordless massager as an extra precaution and help your loved one understand how it works.
8. Soft toys or a baby doll
Depending on the person’s preferences and anxiety levels, a soft companion can add value to their life. Those living with memory loss or cognitive impairments tend to feel isolated and confused, and a soft toy that resembles a pet can give them pleasure and comfort. Some soft toys are so well made that they appear to be breathing and have cat-like or dog-like fur. Your caree with dementia may also enjoy a baby doll, as it can recreate parenting memories—and the holding and rocking of a baby is a soothing movement.
9. Time and food
The best gift you can give pretty much anyone—especially those living with dementia—are moments together and shared time. Hold their hand or read to them, sing songs, or color together. Celebrate birthdays and special occasions and let them know you care for and remember them.
If they enjoy cooking, include them in the cooking process and engage them with simple tasks. If your loved one with dementia lives in a care facility, cook a favorite meal and let them enjoy a culinary treat. For the culture lovers, bring some exotic food or take them to a restaurant for some sushi or dim sum.
10. Jigsaw puzzles
Puzzles are a fun activity for many, but they offer more than entertainment for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Jigsaw puzzles can improve short-term memory and overall brain function, and they can be therapeutic and provide cognitive stimulation. At the same time, putting a puzzle together can be a social activity and improve interaction with family and friends.
When choosing the perfect puzzle, go for ones with larger pieces that are easier to handle, but keep in mind that you want to challenge the person by giving them a task to complete, so don’t make it too easy. Ordering a tailor-made puzzle of a family photo can add a personal touch and evoke memories.
Give the gift or music or memories this year! Check out the wonderfully creative—and affordable—home & community-based programming of our sponsors, Bridgetown Music Therapy and PHOTAVIA.
Enjoy 50% off your first two months of Bridgetown Music Therapy’s services by using coupon code CAREGIVINGADVICE at sign up (after your free 7-day trial ends)! Sign up here.
Curious about PHOTAVIA and want to give it a try with your caree? Take advantage of these free offers to explore their programming before subscribing: