You can find plenty of lists online detailing what to bring someone in the hospital, but few lists will help you with gift ideas for those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Birthday or Holiday Gifts for Dementia Patients
- Sensory Gift Ideas for Dementia Patients
- Care Package Ideas for Dementia Patients
- Gifts for a Loved One With Dementia Who Lives in a Nursing Home
- Mother’s or Father’s Day Gifts for a Loved One With Dementia
- Sensory Gifts for a Loved One With Dementia
If you plan to look for gifts for those at the beginning stages of the disease, you may want gifts that promote brain activity. Gifts for those in the later stages of the disease should focus on safety and comfort.
Talk with caregivers for specific ideas, since they probably know what the patient needs.
Birthday or Holiday Gifts for Dementia Patients
Birthday and holiday gifts for dementia patients don’t have to look much different than those you would purchase for the elderly. We’ve included some typical items that many older people would enjoy, as well as gifts specifically for those with memory problems.
Your loved one may have thousands of photos but the photos may not be organized or labeled to make it easy for your loved one to view them.
Consider making a photo book filled with images of all the important people in your loved one’s life. Include photos as far back in the family tree as you can go. Work your way forward in history to include clear photographs of each generation. Label each image with the name and relationship, such as “Max and Patricia Smith, your grandparents.”
2. Large print clock
Purchase a large print clock for your loved one. Find one made explicitly for Alzheimer’s with the day, time of day, time, and date. Place clocks at strategic locations in the house.
You may also want to purchase one that has an alarm function to remind your loved one when to take pills or eat, even though you may not be able to consistently rely on the patient’s ability to follow through with such reminders.
3. Streaming service
An Alzheimer’s patient may enjoy watching TV shows and movies from his youth. Consider purchasing a subscription streaming service that offers classic TV shows. The patient may need help with this technology.
We like Amazon Prime Video.
4. Specialized phone
Cellphone manufacturers finally caught up to the needs of the elderly and dementia patients. Specialized phones only have a few options.
Patients can make calls by touching a picture of a loved one.
5. Music service
A patient may have a difficult time operating CD, tape, or record players. You may be able to show your loved one a few simple steps to access a music streaming service.
Create an easy-to-find playlist for your family member that includes all their favorite songs from throughout the years.
We like Amazon Music Unlimited.
Some dementia patients can operate simple technology. If the disease has not progressed, they may be able to work a tablet.
Remove all superfluous apps to make the screen clutter-free and add memory games, streaming services, and photographs.
7. Comfortable clothes
Consider your loved one’s preferred clothing choices before buying clothes as a gift. Even if you think your mother would be more comfortable in athletic apparel, she may have other ideas.
If your dad wears dress pants and a cardigan every day, consider replacing worn items. Changing clothing preferences at a late stage may be next to impossible.
Sensory Gift Ideas for Dementia Patients
If your loved one’s memory and capabilities have decreased, you may want to look for gift ideas that appeal to the senses.
Of course, consider safety. Some Alzheimer’s patients compulsively put items in their mouths, so don’t buy any items that could be choking hazards.
8. Weighted blankets
Many people find comfort in weighted blankets. A weighted blanket’s pressure may reduce anxiety in an older adult. If your loved one cannot handle such a large item, consider purchasing a weighted lap pad or wrap.
We like this Weighted Blanket / Gray / 5, 10, 15, 20 lbs.
9. Doll or stuffed animal
You may hesitate to give a doll or stuffed animal to an adult, but Alzheimer’s patients sometimes get a lot of comfort from holding them.
Many look incredibly lifelike, and former caregivers may enjoy taking care of someone again.
Even though fidget spinners are popular items with children, manufacturers make similar items for adults. You can find a wide variety of styles for adult fidgets. Get one in the shape of a hand muff or one like an apron.
11. Cookie dough
Who doesn’t love biting into a cookie fresh out of the oven? Get individually-portioned cookie dough for your loved one’s caregiver to bake when the mood strikes.
12. Simple games
Keep your loved one’s brain functioning — purchase simple games that may help stimulate their vocabulary. Some of these games may look similar to what a toddler would play, but they may keep the patient’s vocabulary from regressing.
Care Package Ideas for Dementia Patients
Instead of purchasing one large gift for the dementia patient in your life, you may consider making several care packages several times a year. Replace needed items in the care package and include treats and comfort items as well.
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13. Bath items
Older people have a difficult time managing large bottles of shampoo and soap. Include toiletry items in your care package.
Even if your loved one has memory issues, they may be loyal to a specific brand. Make sure you know his preferences before making a purchase.
Lavender offers a soothing effect. Consider lavender scented products for someone who suffers from anxiety.
Does your loved one have difficulty with the toileting process? Consider purchasing flushable wipes for them (or their caregiver) to use.
15. Drawings by children
The best gifts sometimes don’t cost any money. Ask children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren to draw something. This gift will surely put a smile on your loved one’s face.
What was your loved one’s favorite candy as a youngster? Try to find a favorite type of taffy from your loved one’s favorite childhood summer vacation spot. Or purchase a bag of hard candy your loved one kept in their purse.
17. Gel seat cushion
Gel seat cushions may be too large for a typical gift basket, but they may bring a lot of comfort to those who spend a lot of time sitting in a wheelchair or lifting recliner.
18. Blank cards
During lucid moments, your loved one may appreciate having a stock of blank cards at their disposal. Include a variety of cards, including birthday greetings and sympathy messages. Include stamps with the gift and make sure your loved one or their caregiver gets the addresses.
Some dementia patients spend a lot of nights awake. Make their homes safer — light the pathways to prevent your loved one from tripping.
Who doesn’t love a new pair of socks? Make sure you know your loved one’s preferences before making the purchase. Some older people become set in their ways.
Gifts for a Loved One With Dementia Who Lives in a Nursing Home
Purchasing a gift for a person living in a nursing home is sometimes tricky. After all, your loved one may have limited space to display decorative items and store their possessions.
Here are a few gift ideas for someone with dementia who is located in an assisted living facility. Of course, please verify with the caregiver that the gift is safe for your loved one to use.
21. Coloring books
Your loved one may have a lot of hours to fill throughout the week. Although most nursing homes have planned daily activities, your loved one may need something to do to fill in the gaps.
Coloring books can be a great distraction for someone with time on their hands. Even if your loved one was not particularly artsy during their normal adult life, you might be surprised what activities they would enjoy as they age.
We like the Color & Frame - In the Garden (Adult Coloring Book).
22. Tickets to an outing
If your loved one is able to get out in the community safely, consider purchasing tickets to a concert and attending the event with them. Performances with complicated story lines may confuse your loved one. Instead, you might consider buying tickets for a musical performance in a genre they enjoy.
23. Visitors journal
Dementia patients sometimes are not able to accurately report visits they receive. For example, your mom may tell you that “a nice man stopped by,” and you might not know if that man was your brother, your son, or your mom’s minister. Your mom may also not be able to remember if the visit was last week, month, or year.
A visitors journal will clear up any confusion. The visitor can leave a simple note that only includes the time and date of the visit. They might also jot down things they talked about, which might help subsequent visitors with conversation starters.
24. Fresh flowers
Brighten up your loved one’s room by bringing them a small bouquet of flowers. Keep in mind that there might not be a vase at the facility. Also, consider purchasing a vase that isn’t easily tipped.
We like these Fresh Flowers - Just Orchids White Dendrobium.
Mother’s or Father’s Day Gifts for a Loved One With Dementia
Are you struggling to think of a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift for a loved one? Here are a few gift ideas for a family member with dementia.
25. Photo collage
If your loved one has abundant wall space, consider creating a photo collage of your favorite family pic. Try to include pictures from every stage of your loved one’s life. You might want to label the people in the photographs, depending upon how much the dementia has affected their identification skills. Hang the collage next to your loved one’s favorite chair.
26. Photo calendar
Your loved one may appreciate help with keeping track of significant dates. Create a personalized calendar from one of the photo gift websites to help your mom or dad remember family birthdays.
We like this 2022 Monthly Desk Photo Calendar.
27. Greeting cards
Depending on the severity of your loved one’s dementia, you might consider creating an organized system to help your loved one remember whether or not they sent a birthday or anniversary card. Some people who have early dementia may worry that they’ll forget a grandchild’s birthday or a friend’s anniversary while others may inadvertently send multiple gifts to celebrate a single occasion.
Prepare the greeting cards to be mailed for the year ahead and leave specific instructions on when they should be sent.
We like this 50-Pack All Occasion Greeting Cards Box Set, 4 x 6 inch, 50 Assorted Blank Note Cards & 50 Envelopes, 6 Nature Photography Americana Designs, Blank Inside, by Better Office Products, 50 Pack
28. Home security system
If your loved one is in the early stages of memory loss, you might want to install a security system that will alert them when the garage door is left open or when the front door is unlocked. As your loved one’s dementia progresses, their caregiver may use the system to monitor your parent’s whereabouts.
29. Chef service
Hire a personal chef to shop for your parents and prepare tasty, nutritious meals that can be reheated easily. At-home chef services are not as expensive as you might think, and they take care of all the shopping before they arrive at your loved one’s home to prepare the meals.
The chef can accommodate any diet your loved one should be following and may provide some entertainment for a person who rarely receives visitors.
We suggest Chefs for Seniors.
Sensory Gifts for a Loved One With Dementia
“Sensory” items are popular in educational settings as teachers are learning more about how the taste, sound, smell, sight, and touch affect the thought process of students. It only makes sense that those sensory gifts may also be beneficial for a loved one with dementia.
30. Brain games
Search for active mind fidgets for seniors to find “toys” that your loved one can manipulate. These simple items are designed to give your loved one something safe to touch.
31. Essential oil diffuser
An essential oil diffuser can appeal to your loved one’s sense of sight and smell. Do some research to learn how different scents can affect people, and use them to set the proper mood.
Purchase soft-feeling clothes with no tags for someone with dementia.
Clothing is sometimes an issue for the elderly. They may struggle to put on over-the-head shirts, but at the same time they may find zippers and buttons difficult to maneuver. Understand your loved one’s limitations before purchasing an article of clothing for them.
A person’s food preference changes over the years. The treat that your loved one used to enjoy may not taste the same later on in life.
Instead of buying the treat that “they always love,” you might want to try different foods that may be more appealing.
You may not have been brought up in a touchy-feely family, but a loved one with dementia may want contact with another person. Try giving your loved one a gentle shoulder or back rub. Hold your loved one’s hand as you sit with each other. You might also ask if they would like you to brush their hair or paint their nails.
This gift may feel awkward at first, but it may reduce the anxiety levels of a person with dementia.
35. Herbal teas
Prepare a cup of herbal tea for your loved one. Some herbal teas are known for having calming effects. Some types of tea are supposedly good for brain health. Talk with your loved one’s physician before making any substantial diet changes. Also be on the lookout to see if the tea is affecting your loved one’s sleep.
Other Ways to Bring Comfort to a Dementia Patient
You may feel odd visiting someone without bringing a gift, but your loved one would probably appreciate your company more than any item you bring.
Introduce yourself each time you visit. In fact, you may need to tell your loved one who you are throughout the visit.
Do as much as you can to keep your loved one as tranquil as possible. Don’t draw any unnecessary attention to the fact that they don’t accurately remember something or someone. Never argue with a dementia patient.
Many Alzheimer’s patients continually repeat stories. Be patient. Respond when appropriate. Telling your loved one that you have heard this story thousands of times does not help the situation.
Talk soothingly to your loved one. It’s incredibly hard watching a loved one struggle with memory issues. If you’re a full-time caregiver, look for Alzheimer’s daycare centers in your area and practice self-care whenever possible.