There are many challenges to navigate when a loved one has dementia. The holidays can be especially difficult, given that these special days inspire memories for most, but may cause confusion for your family member.
If someone you love has memory loss, choosing an appropriate gift that will have meaning may seem impossible. But we are here to help. Here are some quick gift ideas as to what you can give to a dementia patient this holiday season.
The best gift ideas for dementia patients are those which encourage cognitive exercise, soothe anxiety, and give them a sense of accomplishment. Here are some ideas:
Puzzles: Simple puzzles allow a dementia patient to utilize cognitive and problem solving skills, while providing fun for them and anyone helping them. Large print word searches, chunky wood puzzles, and custom jigsaw puzzles are great choices. Many of these puzzles are designed for those with mental or physical impairments, and some puzzles have been created specifically for dementia patients. These puzzles offer large, vibrant designs and pictures, and the limited number of pieces are easy to grasp.
Activity Sets: Gift ideas which provide a sense of accomplishment and independence for Alzheimer’s patients area great choice. Some examples may include stringing large beads on colorful shoelaces; boards with locks, latches and fasteners to work on; and foam arts and crafts sets. If appropriate, color by numbers. coloring books, modeling clay or painting sets may be a big hit.
Soothing & Relaxing Gifts: One of the characteristics of a person with dementia is that they can get agitated. Gifts which encourage calm and serenity can be especially valuable. Try stress-relieving items such as spiky or fuzzy balls to work out some stress, or a fidget quilt with lots of gadgets to keep nervous hands busy. You may also try making a photo quilt with favorite old photos that your loved one may still recognize.
Therapy Toys: Elderly people instinctively wish to care for children or animals, but may no longer have the ability to care for an actual pet. Fuzzy and soft robotic animals can be cuddled and cared for (as can traditional stuffed animals) and therapy dolls can help a dementia patient to “care for” a baby and feel accomplished in doing so. This may bring back many warm feelings of nostalgia and parenting.
Picture Books: Large cardboard books with colorful illustrations can keep a dementia patient enthralled. Choose colorful, realistic pictures of things they may remember, such as nature scenes, animals, or even family members.
There are also practical gift ideas which may make your loved ones life easier. You may wish to consider a large print wall calendar for them to keep track of visits and appointments, an extra large digital clock to keep them aware of time, or a “dementia radio”. designed with one button to turn on their favorite music.
Did You Know? Dining ware (cups and plates) that is red will encourage your dementia patient to eat and drink more! If you have trouble encouraging your loved one to eat and drink enough, give it a try.
These gift ideas are meant to be a springboard for your imagination – consider your loved one’s personality, and then look for a gift that will make them happy and relaxed. If you need additional ideas, ask the professionals at their memory care center, who are likely to know better than most what may be the perfect gift. At A Banyan Residence of Venice, we are committed to happy holidays – and a happy life – for your loved one.