Fun and Therapy in a Package
What could be better than getting a present on a special day? Christmas, a birthday, Mother’s day or Father’s day, Valentine’s day: These and many more occasions offer an excuse or a reason to give a gift to that loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. But don’t think you need to watch the calendar. We often gift wrap the things that we bring to Bernice, whatever the day. She always lights up, smiles, and an ordinary day becomes a holiday. Gifts for Alzheimer’s can truly be an important part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Giving a gift on a holiday can also be a part of a reality therapy routine. It brings attention to the fact that this day is his birthday, or it’s Chanukah, or a special day to celebrate fathers. It might remind him of past birthday celebrations, of the meaning of Chanukah, or that he is a father and has children. The gift itself might be therapeutic. Choose something that stimulates the brain, exercises the hands, or excites the senses. You will find plenty of fun and practical gifts for Alzheimer’s and dementia here and in our store.
On a special day like Christmas or a birthday when family and friends gather, a good gift is one that can be enjoyed by the whole group. A game that gets everyone involved and having fun together, one that elicits old memories and conversation about those old memories is perfect for a holiday gathering. When the day is over and company is gone, things that provide sensory stimulation and entertainment are excellent choices. An activity that can be enjoyed alone or with a caregiver is always good to have on hand.
Or give us a call. We are always happy to help you find the perfect gift for your loved one!
Choosing Gifts for Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Choosing a gift for anyone can be tough; finding the perfect gift for a loved one who has dementia is no exception. When selecting gifts for Alzheimer’s disease, choose things that will make life easier for him or her, things that will help maintain a degree of independence. The collective name for this type of product is Aids for Daily Living (ADLs). This could be a product that helps her to remember to take her medicine or to accomplish an everyday task that the progression of the disease is making more difficult. It might be an item that helps him locate something when he forgets where he used it last or a phone that doesn’t rely on remembering a phone number. It could also be something that makes everyday living less dangerous.
But don’t stop there. ADLs are important and can make fine gifts, but also look for things that are fun, things that your loved one will really enjoy. Fun activities are our specialty. We have spent countless hours searching for activities that are delightful at the same time that they are engaging and stimulating. Stimulation can be sensory, cognitive, or physical stimulation. If an activity stimulates it will probably be fun. Our store is full of gifts that fill that double requirement of stimulating and fun. There you will find DVDs that offer a meaningful alternative to television, games and puzzles that are not only fun but are thought to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and other activities that improve quality of life in general.
If your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another progressive dementia it is also important to consider the stage when selecting a gift for a person with Alzheimer’s. In the earliest stages, gifts need not be so very different than what you might have given her before the diagnosis. Games and activities should reflect her interests and challenge her to exercise her brain as well as her body. As the condition progresses activities should be less challenging than earlier activities, but should still be challenging at her level. Later stage gifts should concentrate on providing comfort while stimulating the senses. And remember, a gift that was appropriate when she was in the early stages of the disease will likely not hold her interest later.
Suggested Gifts for Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementia by Stage
Early Stage Gifts for Alzheimer’s
- Classic movies and TV shows
- Activity books: math games, crossword puzzle, strategy games
- Health club membership/Personal Trainer
- Books that teach about the disease
- Music CD’s – especially music that also stimulates reminiscing
- Reading material that reflects the interests of the reader
Middle Stage Gifts for Alzheimer’s
- Phones and Clocks
- Activities to inspire reminiscing
- Senior Activity Books
- Any manipulative device that promotes movement (of the hands, arms, etc.)
- Simple games and puzzles
- Stage-appropriate entertainment
- Anything that stimulates any of the senses
- Toiletries and other products that will pamper her or him
Late Stage Gifts for Alzheimer’s
- Nature videos/Other videos that feature visual and auditory stimulation
- Music is a great gift for everyone and for all stages. People in the later stages may benefit more; time and time again we have witnessed music “waking up” people who are otherwise despondent and non-communicative.
- Doll or stuffed animal
- Weighted lap pad
- Special clothing that makes dressing and undressing easier
Suggested Gifts for Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementia by Need or Interest
Another thing to consider when choosing a gift for Alzheimer’s is the type of stimulation you think is most needed. What type of gift will your loved one most enjoy. Does she or he enjoy watching television? We don’t recommend television usually, especially given what normal programming is, but we have given a lot of thought to alternative television. We have a great selection of Nature DVDs that are interesting and beautiful to watch but don’t involve a plot or even narration. And they are very relaxing for those on both sides of the care-partner relationship. Or try our Video Respite DVDs that actually involve your loved one in conversation, singing, and reminiscence.
Speaking of reminiscing, what could be better than helping mom or dad, grandpa or grandma, or even your spouse who has dementia remember some of those good-old-times. Track down old photographs and create a scrapbook or a memory book. (Read more about creating a memory book.) Take walks down memory lane and record those conversations. Not only will you be creating something that you can enjoy with your loved one over and over again, you will be creating a legacy that will be a part of your family for generations to come. Read more about reminiscing and reminiscence therapy.
Music and art therapy involve a creative process. Creativity resides in a part of the brain that is affected late in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Communication and learning are two functions that are usually lost early to Alzheimer’s. Art Therapy and Music Therapy allow those critical functions to be regained to a degree. Because the creative center of the brain works after others have been lost to the disease art including music can provide an alternative mode of communication, and even a new way to learn. Perhaps more important, music is fun! Art is fun! Include opportunities for creating art and music in the daily routine whenever you can.
Gifts for Alzheimer’s Caregivers
Caregivers are also deserving of consideration when it comes time to give. Perhaps your sister or brother is caring for a parent because they live in the same city. Your grandmother or grandfather might be lucky to have your parents looking after them. Caring for a loved one with any disability is very rewarding, but it is also very demanding, stressful and tiring. Give them something to show that what they are doing is appreciated.
The two things that a busy caregiver wants and needs more than anything are help and a break from his routine. Even if you don’t live close enough to take over for a day, you can still provide care indirectly. Adult day programs for people with Alzheimer’s disease are getting increasingly common. If there is a center in the caregiver’s area, arrange for the loved one to spend a day there. Perhaps arrange for a day each week, or a couple of days a month.
Another option is to hire an in-home caregiver for a day, or for a day each week or each month. This might be better than taking your loved one to a day program if he or she is insecure about being in new places. If you are feeling particularly benevolent, send the caregiver to a spa for a day of relaxation and rejuvenation on that day.
A housecleaning service would also be a most welcome gift for someone who has precious little time for much of anything but giving the best care she is capable of. So would meals delivered to the house, a laundry service, and groceries delivered. Anything you can do to lighten the load will be greatly appreciated.
If you live nearby, drop off a meal occasionally, or invite everyone to your home for dinner and a little social time. Offer to run errands, pick up groceries,
Time can be the most precious commodities to anyone who is caring for another who is disabled. Time by themselves, time to rejuvenate, time to spend with friends or even on the phone. Whatever you can do to provide extra time will be greatly appreciated.
If you are the primary caregiver for a parent, spouse or grandparent, don’t forget to pamper yourself as often as possible. And never be be afraid to ask for help.
What have you found makes good gifts for Alzheimer’s? Please share your ideas in the comment section below.