A Guide to Giving Gifts for Dementia Patients
Are you looking for the perfect gift for a loved one with dementia? Do you realize the gifts they enjoyed in the past may no longer bring the same joy?
For many of us, gift-giving can be a difficult task, but it can be even more difficult when purchasing gifts for a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia.
In this article, you will learn:
- Gift ideas for dementia patients in all stages of dementia; and
- Some of the best gifts for dementia patients.
Keep reading to learn how to find the perfect gift for your loved one with dementia.
Table of Contents
How to Choose Gift Ideas for Dementia Patients in Every Stage
Dementia is a progressive neurological disorder. It is caused by brain disease and is marked by:
- Personality changes
- Impaired memory; and
- Flawed reasoning
There are different stages of dementia, and gradual changes characterize them all.
When shopping for a loved one with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends keeping in mind the stage of dementia your loved one is in.
Shopping for gifts which are …
- Reminding a loved one of home; and
- Filling an interest
… is always a great place to begin.
3 Gift Ideas for Dementia Patients in Early Stage Dementia
While in the early stage of dementia, most people can function independently.
In the early stage of dementia, your loved one might:
- Still drive
- Participate in social activities
- Volunteer; and
Even though your loved one might be living independently, they might feel as if they have memory lapses (i.e., forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday items and places).
The gifts you would purchase at this stage can be similar to gifts you would give to any loved one. However, gifts that remind a loved one of home or the “good ol’ days” are always meaningful. At this stage, gifts that are practical and purposeful would also be great choices.
#1: Activity Books, Puzzles, or Games
Activity books, puzzles, and games are great gifts. Dementia patients can benefit from these gifts, which add reminiscence and cognitive stimulation.
Activity books often contain word games and crossword puzzles and can:
- Reduce stress; and
- Activate the problem-solving area of the brain
Puzzles can help to stimulate the mind by using:
- Matching skills
- Visualizing; and
- Coordination of the fingers
Memory games for early-stage dementia patients can:
- Be entertaining
- Improve memory
- Help daily life skills; and
- Overall mental health
#2: Photo Album
Even though your loved one’s memory might be fading, they still cherish their fond memories.
A photo album with special family occasions would be a memorable gift for the early-stage dementia patient. There are even companies that can put your photos into a calendar format.
Thanks to technology, talking photo albums are now a popular gift. These photo albums allow you, or other relatives, to record messages for every page in the album.
If your loved one enjoyed traveling, consider purchasing a coffee-table book with pictures from their favorite destination.
#3: Lap Blanket
It has been shown that it is common for people who have early-stage dementia to often feel cold.
If your loved one is experiencing this, or if your loved one has always been cold-natured, a cozy lap blanket would be a great gift. You could even let your loved one know, when they bundle up with their blanket, to think of you hugging them.
3 Gift Ideas for Dementia Patients in Middle Stage Dementia
The middle stage of dementia is usually the longest and can last for several years. It is during this time that the level of care might increase.
In the middle stage of dementia, your loved one might exhibit the following:
- Difficulty expressing thoughts
- Difficulty performing routine tasks
- Jumbling words
- Having trouble dressing
- Getting frustrated or angry
During this stage of dementia, your loved one’s personality and behavior might drastically change. They might even have extreme reactions to their surroundings. At this stage, a gift that brings feelings of comfort and coziness is a beautiful idea.
#1: Something Homemade
Is there anything that shows love more than a homemade gift?
During the middle stage of dementia, when your loved one could use some comfort, a handmade reminder of love could be perfect.
During this stage of dementia, any of the following can show your loved one how much you care:
- A knit scarf
- A crocheted blanket
- Homemade cookies; or
- A favorite loaf of bread
#2: Comfort & Warmth
A gift that brings a feeling of comfort and warmth is sure to be enjoyed by your loved one. Likewise, a cozy and comfy gift can be calming and relaxing.
A few ideas of gifts bringing comfort and warmth:
- A warm sweater
- Cozy slippers
- A soft bathrobe
- Fuzzy socks
- A cushy blanket
#3: Nostalgic Music
We all know music has the power to soothe, and research suggests that listening to music can provide emotional and behavioral benefits for people with dementia.
Those with dementia can often retain musical memories because crucial brain areas linked to musical memory are often undamaged by the disease.
For those who have dementia, music can:
- Reduce anxiety
- Reduce depression
- Relieve stress
- Reduce agitation
Does your loved one have a favorite artist or band? Is there a particular genre of music they love? Then, consider purchasing your loved one …
- An MP3 player
- A CD player and CD’s; or
- A record player and records
3 Gift Ideas for Dementia Patients in Late-Stage Dementia
Late-stage dementia is sometimes called “end-stage dementia.” This is the stage in which symptoms become severe, and the patient requires help with activities of daily living.
In this stage of dementia, your loved you might:
- Need help walking
- Become susceptible to infection
- Be unable to speak or have difficulty being understood
- Become incontinent
- Be unable to recognize family and friends
Since every patient is different, it is difficult to predict how long late-stage dementia will last.
It might feel difficult to purchase a gift for your loved ones during this stage, but some gifts can bring a smile to their face.
Regardless of the stage of dementia, it is always a good idea to have your loved one have the best activities available which keep them stimulated and engaged.
#1: Stuffed Animals/Dolls
Stuffed animals or dolls are a popular gift option for dementia patients.
These stuffed animals and dolls become an integral part of a senior’s daily living. Caring for the stuffed animal or doll gives them a sense of responsibility and purpose. Stuffed animals are also great for providing sensory stimulation.
Stuffed animals and dolls that make noises can make the patient feel like taking care of a living pet or baby.
Research has shown, providing care to stuffed animals or dolls can bring back happy memories of caring for pets or take dementia patients back to when they were in early parenthood.
#2: Arts & Crafts
Arts and crafts can be an excellent way for dementia patients to express themselves.
Research has shown that arts and crafts are a legitimate therapy method for late-stage dementia patients.
Some of the benefits to arts and crafts include:
- Emotions – art can provide a way for dementia patients to express themselves.
- Socializing – those with late-stage dementia are often withdrawn from others, art therapy can allow them to socialize with others.
- Less stress – art has been shown to decrease cortisol, the stress hormone, regardless of one’s mental ability.
Now that we have taken a look at the benefits to arts and crafts, let’s take a look at some arts and crafts you could provide for your loved one:
- Collage kits
- Kits to make homemade cards
- Paint by number kits
- Modeling clay
- Colorful pens or pencils and a sketchbook for doodling
Regardless of the arts and crafts you buy for your loved one, working on a project together will be a memorable bonding experience.
#3: Sensory Gifts
Research has shown, many individuals with late-stage dementia might benefit from sensory stimulation. Sensory stimulation can help a person relax and calm down, which is especially beneficial to the late-stage dementia patient.
Sensory stimulation involves triggering at least one of the following senses:
Gifts that provide sensory stimulation include:
- A small fish tank for visual stimulation
- Soft toys for tactile stimulation
- Busy blankets or books for tactile stimulation
- Diffuser with essential oil to stimulate smell
- Lava lamp for visual stimulation
- Books to be read aloud for auditory stimulation
- Weighted lap blanket for overall relaxation and stimulation
During the late stage of dementia, sensory gifts for dementia patients can be very beneficial for your loved one.
A Visit or Experience: Some of the Best Gifts for Dementia Patients in Any Stage
If your loved one is living in a care center, be sure to keep in mind their rooms are often smaller than the homes they moved from. It was possible, your loved one was asked to downsize when they moved into the care center. Therefore, there might not have space for larger-sized gifts.
Care facilities often provide engaging activities such as …
- Books; and
… accessible for patients to use whenever they choose.
Because of this, choosing an experience or outing, or simply spending special time together during a visit can be the best gift of all. This is especially true around the holidays.
Senior Services of America: Providing Seniors With Dementia Care, Love, and Engagement Every Day
Senior Services of America specializes in the management and operation of senior housing communities. Since 2000, every day, we have been providing seniors with:
- Dementia care
- Love; and
At our memory care communities, we provide many activities and items seniors with all stages of dementia need for care, comfort, and stimulation.
To learn more about the care and comfort we offer, find your nearest community today.