• Kathryn Watson

What Do I Give Someone With Alzheimer’s?


This can seem a bit of a challenge but the truth is there are a lot of options. First you want to consider what stage in the disease process is the person you're purchasing the gift for. What's appropriate for someone in the beginning stages of the disease may not work for someone in the later stages or even in the mid age.

Beginning Stage

In the beginning get activity books, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles and strategy games. These can help stimulate the mind. You might also purchase classic movies and television shows. Think about what shows and movies they liked to watch. Don loves westerns, anything with John Wayne. A collection of John Wayne movies was a big hit for Christmas. Ida, on the other hand loves cooking shows and decorating shows. She can never get enough of these.

CD's and music are another good choice. Find out who their favorite musicians were when they were a teenager and young adult. If they still have old records lying around you could purchase a turntable to play them on. This is actually a good gift for all of the stages.

Beware Of Scams

You may think about getting someone an I-Pad or tablet. However, there are a lot of people online who are just looking for a vulnerable person to scam. Be careful.

" Mom kept forgetting that she wasn't supposed to give out her private information to callers or online. We finally had to take away her computer."

There is a Different Solution

You may want to choose a closed system where a family member can monitor and control who they have contact with. All family members and friends would be able to email, text and even video call them through this device. A music list can be set up with popular music.

grandPad is one such system. And this company offers excellent customer service. Mom can call and talk to a company representative on the phone about any problems she is experiencing. And the great news is mom will talk with someone who has been specially trained to help seniors.

Other good choices

Always a good choice are family photos or photo album. The electronic picture frames that scroll through different pictures are always popular. You can update them with new pictures as you get them. Do not however, give them a recent picture of themselves. It could cause a lot of upset and confusion.

Gift with A Benefit

A bird feeder and some binoculars to watch the birds or even an aquarium. An interesting study by researchers at Purdue University discovered a benefit to adding aquariums in dementia units in nursing homes. The addition appeared to reduce disruptive behavior. Furthermore, it improved the eating habits of those with dementia. You will want to make sure that you have someone to maintain and care for the fish tank.

Middle Stage

Someone who is moving into the middle stages may still enjoy some of the early stage gifts. Music is always popular and someone in this stage will still be able to use the grandPad.

Memory boxes are very popular.

This is all about stimulating memories. And older memories may be easier to access. This can bring hours of enjoyment to someone with Mid stage Alzheimer's disease.You can make more than one memory box for someone. Memory Boxes for different times in their life will help to stimulate good feelings and joy. You could try a wedding memory box, a holiday box or maybe a box filled with memories of their children.

Look for things that will spark memories.

Find special items, newspaper clippings, photos, mementos they saved. These would all make good things to put in the memory box. It can be as decorative or as simple as you like. You'll want to focus on positive things that are linked to positive memories.

Choose items that are easy to handle because sometimes the texture itself can stir up memories. If an item is irreplaceable you probably want to leave it out of the memory box. There's a good chance it could get lost. Make sure you don't put anything that's heavy or sharp items in the memory box.

Get Creative

You can add a baby toy, baseball or cards. Even a lock of their child's hair might bring back happy memories. Add artwork by children or grandchildren. Dried flowers, family photos, postcards, vacation souvenirs, and more. Once you get started you'll probably find a lot of things that might spark great memories.

My in-laws spend a lot of time playing cards with their friends. They would get together weekly for bridge or other card games and had a great time. “A memory box with some of their old decks of cards and pictures of friends really stirred up a lot of memories” Susan told me. “My mother-in-law being from ear-to-ear as she touched each item in the box.”

Take Time to Open The Box Together

Make sure that you have plenty of time when you give this gift you'll want to make sure that you sit with your loved one and allow them to slowly go through the box. Ask them about the different items in the Box. Listen to what they have to say.

Late Stage

When someone is in the later stage of Alzheimer's gift giving may feel a little more challenging. Soft and fluffy bathrobe pair of slippers or soft blanket in their favorite color would make a perfect gift comfortable and soft clothing sweat suits shoes with Velcro ties anything that makes dressing and undressing easier will be appreciated.

Again music and CD's are good choices. There are a lot of studies showing the benefits of music. Music is powerful for people with Alzheimer's and Dementia. And sometimes it can even bring them back for a short time.

Think sensory stimulation.

A lot of people in the late stages really love things like the fidget blankets. They're easy to make. It can be as simple as sewing on buttons and clips to a blanket.Also add some beads on a rope. And be sure to use both fuzzy and silky fabrics. These blankets have become very popular for Alzheimer's patients providing hours of relief from anxiety and depression.

Creams with soothing scents and aromatherapy can be a great gift. An aromatherapy diffuser and certain oils may also be welcome. However, these items should not be used unattended. You'll need to make sure that somebody is available to help to assist with using the aromatherapy products.

Of course, the best gift of all that you can give is your time. Even if Mom no longer seems to know who you are, there is a part of her that still knows you. And the truth is people know when someone cares.

Pat Mack has been helping families make the right decisions to care for someone they love since 1997. Email Her Today for more information.

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