Choosing a gift for a loved one with dementia can be challenging, especially because the gifts and activities they enjoyed in the past may no longer spark joy.
Luckily, we’ve come a long way in understanding the needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease, and there are many dementia-friendly gifts to choose from. Read on to learn more about what makes good gifts for Alzheimer’s patients so you can still surprise your loved one on birthdays, holidays, special occasions, or just because.
Best Gift Ideas for Alzheimer’s Patients
The best gift ideas for Alzheimer’s patients ultimately depend on a few factors, primarily the stage of dementia they’re in. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease typically progresses slowly in three stages: early, middle, and late.
During the early stages, a person may still be living independently with only temporary lapses in memory. But as dementia progresses, memory loss becomes more apparent and patients need around-the-clock care.
While gifts for persons with dementia may vary depending on their health and the stage of their illness, you can never go wrong with presents that are engaging, helpful, and promote a sense of purpose.
Here are a handful of great gift ideas for Alzheimer’s patients and tips for tailoring your presents to your loved one’s needs.
1. Puzzle Books or Games
Jigsaw puzzles, activity books, and games make great gifts for Alzheimer’s patients because they provide cognitive stimulation. Activating the problem-solving part of the brain is also a great way to help reduce stress.
Consider choosing activities based on your loved one’s interests. For instance, if they love nature, consider getting them a puzzle or matching game featuring animals or plants.
Also, make sure to choose a stage-appropriate gift. A person living with Alzheimer’s in the early stages may enjoy a more challenging 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, while someone in the later stages of dementia may need puzzles with fewer, larger pieces.
2. Memory Box or Photo Album
Even if your loved one is having a hard time remembering names and faces, they still cherish happy memories and will enjoy being reminded of the past. Photo albums and memory boxes make great Christmas gifts for Alzheimer’s patients when you’re looking for something personal.
Medical News Today offers helpful tips on how to create a memory book for someone with dementia, noting how these gifts can help individuals with dementia remember their past and stimulate long-term memory. Having a book of photos and personal mementos on hand can also help preserve their sense of identity and promote their sense of well-being.
3. Fidget Blanket
Alzheimer’s patients often become restless and may begin to pace, fidget, and pull at their clothing without realizing it. Fidget blankets and fidget toys in general provide a safer option for sensory stimulation.
Today, you can find plenty of dementia-friendly fidget toys online. Some of the best gifts for Alzheimer’s patients also include fidget aprons and fidget blankets that provide some extra comfort and stop patients from pulling at their clothing.
4. Cozy Clothing
Speaking of clothing, your loved one will also appreciate some comfortable, warm clothing. It’s common for persons with dementia to feel cold during the middle and late stages of the disease. It can also be difficult for people with Alzheimer’s disease to express when they’re cold.
Warmer clothing or comfortable sweaters and blankets are something they’re sure to use.
Time and time again, music has been shown to help Alzheimer’s patients reduce agitation and improve behavioral issues common in the middle stages of the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association explains that music is an excellent way for patients to connect, even if they’re unable to verbally communicate.
Thus,music players, headphones, or nostalgic music all make great gifts for Alzheimer’s patients. Opt for music that your loved one enjoys and something that creates a relaxing mood and encourages movement.
6. Sensory Items
Other good gift ideas for Alzheimer’s patients include items that stimulate the senses. Along with music and fidget toys for sound and touch, don’t forget about the other senses. Diffusers with pleasantly scented essential oils can stimulate smell, while items like an artificial fish tank or lava lamp provide helpful visual stimulation.
7. Stuffed Animals
In the late stages of Alzheimer’s, patients often crave comfort and sensory stimulation. Stuffed animals and dolls, especially those that make pleasant noises, can make patients feel like they’re taking care of a baby or pet. This can bring back happy memories for dementia patients and provide them with a sense of purpose.
At The Moments, we want residents to continue deriving joy from the activities, interests, and hobbies that have always brought them fulfillment. Learn more about our Life Enrichment programs for our residents.