If you are anything like me, shopping for the holidays or special occassions is a nerve-wracking and anxiety-producing experience. Finding the perfect gift is completely impossible. Finding an acceptable gift is an almost Herculean task that requires stamina, determination, and luck. Whether it is for Christmas, Birthday, or even just because, buying a present can be stressful. Buying a gift for your loved one living with dementia or Alzheimer's is no different. To help you find an acceptable and maybe even perfect gift, I’ve gathered a list of 8 great ideas:
#8 Prepped Meals
Finding time for cooking nutritious meals can be difficult, especially if you are caring for a loved one living with dementia. Consider giving them the gift of a week's worth of meals. Prepare meals that can be frozen or refrigerated for a long time. Put them in easily heated containers, write cooking instructions, and wrap them up in a bow. They will enjoy having something easy and delicious to eat whenever they want, without the work.
#7 Vintage magazines and books
As adults we are often fond of items that remind us of our childhood. Media that we consume in our teens and twenties stays with us for our entire lives. Older adults may lose access to favorite books, magazines, newspapers, radio shows, etc. Help your loved one rediscover something that interested them in their younger days by giving them the gift of a vintage magazine or book. These can be found at many online retailers. If you are attentive you can even get lucky at garage sales, or a local online marketplace.
#6 Personalized Certificates
A gift doesn’t have to be stuff. Sometimes a great option can be a promise to do something for a person. This could be a service to the person or just a promise to spend time with them. Many times, for our loved ones, what they really want is to spend time with us. To make a personalized certificate or coupon, just write or type what you intend to do for the person on a piece of paper and give it to the person. Wrapping and bows is optional. A certificate could be a coupon for walking the dog, washing the car, cooking a meal, cleaning the house, going to a movie, going on a hike, going on a trip, etc. Just think about what your loved one really needs or wants to do and give it to them.
#5 Puzzles/Brain Teasers
People living with dementia need mental stimulation to keep them engaged. Puzzles and brain teasers can be a great way for a person living with early to mid-stages of dementia to stay mentally active. Make sure that the puzzle you would like to gift to your loved one is appropriate for their skill level. Getting a puzzle that is too difficult can cause your loved one to get frustrated. Determine what your loved one’s skill level is and buy accordingly. Check here and here for more ideas.
#4 Robotic Pet
Owning a pet is a rewarding experience, but it comes with many responsibilities. Fulfilling these responsibilities can be difficult and many times impossible for people living with dementia. If you want to get your loved one a furry companion, consider a
robotic version instead of the real thing. The robotic pet industry has made many advances. These new robotic pets are a good alternative for many people who are unable to care for real pets. The industry makes pets specifically for people living with Alzheimer's. If your loved one would like a pet, but doesn’t want or need the responsibility that goes with it, a robotic pet is almost as good as the real thing. Check out our review of the Joy for All Companion Pup on our podcast.
#3 Handheld Electronic Device
Handheld electronic devices or tablets are a necessity for many people. People living with dementia can feel left out when it comes to this piece of technology. Many mainstream tablets are built with very tech-savvy consumers in mind and can feel overwhelming for people not familiar with current trends in technology. To help your loved one reach his or her tech potential, gift them a tablet designed to be user-friendly. Tablets can be used to share pictures of family members and familiar places, as well as to play brain-stimulating games. As dementia progresses the need for assistance may increase. However, with your set-up help they can still have a fulfilling experience.
“If music be the food of love, play on” – William Shakespeare. Music is a great gift for anyone on your shopping list. But people living with dementia can benefit from this even more than the average person. Music can help with reminiscence and provide for a calming atmosphere. Old favorites can spark a sing-along at home. Music is becoming increasingly digital, which does not always increase access for some members of the population. Help your loved one by getting them CD’s or other forms of music with instructions attached. Look for music from your loved one's teens and twenties. Check out some great memory stimulating music here.
#1 Memory Box.
Memories can be hard to keep up with for the average person. Objects from our past are a great way to help remember people, places, good times, events, etc. Your loved one probably loves to reminisce about their long and fulfilling life. Help them remember by filling a box with objects, pictures, and even smells from their past. Ticket stubs, pictures from major life events, a favorite item of clothing, favorite baked goods, and much more can be used in a memory box. Think of it like a dynamic photo album. Helping a person living with dementia to remember positive past experiences can be one of the best gifts you can give them.
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