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Holiday Gift Ideas for People with Alzheimer’s and Their Caregivers

Brooke Phillips, CWCMS
Editor | Shield HealthCare
12/18/18  4:56 PM PST
Gift Ideas for People with Alzheimer's

Original article published by the Alzheimer’s Association on the Daily Herald and edited by Shield HealthCare

Holidays can be difficult for family and friends, as well as for the person living with dementia. Often as family and friends gather to celebrate, symptoms of dementia become clear. Memory loss may be more evident; anxiety sometimes increases in a crowd where there’s lots of noise and conversation, and unfamiliar surroundings may reveal challenges that don’t exist at home.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers a caregiver holiday guide that shows how, with careful planning, family celebrations can be a meaningful part of the holidays while ensuring safety, comfort and enjoyment for everyone. Its purpose is to help alleviate some of the stress associated with the additional activities and changes in routine at this time of year.

If you have a caregiver or a person with Alzheimer’s on your gift-giving list, we’ve got some suggestions to make your shopping a bit easier.

Gifts for people with Alzheimer’s – In the early stages

Items to help remember things:

  • Magnetic reminder refrigerator pads;
  • Post-it notes;
  • Baskets or trays that can be labeled within cabinets or drawers;
  • A small pocket-sized diary or notebook;
  • Erasable whiteboards for key rooms in the house;
  • A memorable calendar featuring family photos (add in special family occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries).

Items to help with everyday tasks:

  • A “memory” phone or picture phone that can store pictures with the names and contact information of family and friends;
  • Automatic medication dispenser that can help the person living with Alzheimer’s remember to take medicine;
  • Nightlights that come on automatically when it gets dark;
  • A clock with the date and time in large type.

Items to help keep the person engaged:

  • An outing to a movie, play or concert;
  • An outing to a sporting event or museum;
  • An organized holiday shopping trip with friends and family;
  • Favorite musical CDs, or a CD with a compilation of favorite tunes;
  • VHS/DVD collection of favorite movies;
  • Activities such as scrap-booking or other craft projects.

Gifts for people with Alzheimer’s – In the middle-to-late stages:

Sensory stimulation gifts:  Stimulating the five senses may help bring back some pleasant memories. Give gifts such as:

  • Scented lotions;
  • A fluffy bathrobe in a favorite color;
  • A soft blanket or afghan to keep warm;
  • Clothes which are comfortable, easy to remove and easily washable such as:
    • sweatsuits
    • knits
    • large banded socks
    • shoes with Velcro ties
    • wrinkle-free nightgowns
    • nightshirts or robes
  • Music.

Research shows that music has a positive impact on individuals with Alzheimer’s, bringing them back to good times, increasing stimulation and providing an opportunity to interact with family members. Look for their favorite CDs, or burn a CD compilation full of musical favorites.

Framed photographs or a photo collage may also be helpful. Print photos of family members and friends at photo centers, insert the names of the people in the photo, and put them in frames or in a photo album created specifically for that person.

You may also consider enrolling the person in MedicAlert + Safe Return, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for wandering and medical emergencies.

Gifts for caregivers:

For many caregivers, there’s no greater gift than the gift of time. Cost-effective and truly meaningful gifts include:

  • Self-made coupons for:
    • cleaning the house
    • cooking a meal
    • mowing the lawn
    • shoveling the driveway
  • Giving time off so a caregiver can do something to meet their needs;
  • Gift cards and certificates;
  • Books.

Gift certificates ideas include those for restaurants, laundry/dry cleaning services, lawn care services, computer/technology support, housecleaning services, and self-care services such as massages or pedicures.

In addition to giving novels on the caregiver’s “must read” list, there are also a number of books on caregiving. Or, consider purchasing a DVR (or provider-based DVR services – available both through cable and through more affordable, internet based options) so the caregiver can record favorite shows or sports programs that he or she may not be able to watch in real time due to care responsibilities.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s research, care and support. To learn more, click here: www.alz.org.

Read the original article on the Daily Herald here.

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