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. 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.
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.
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 a Gift
We recommend that you consider two important things when selecting a gift for a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Choose something that will make things 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. 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 could be an item that helps him locate something when he forgets where he used it last. It could also be something that makes everyday living less dangerous. We have many gift suggestions to make everyday living easier for a person with Alzheimer’s disease.
Another important consideration: find something that is fun, something that he or she will really enjoy. This is our specialty. We have spent countless hours finding activities that are delightful at the same time that they are engaging and stimulating. That could be sensory stimulation, cognitive stimulation, or physical stimulation. If an activity stimulates it will probably be fun. Our store is full of gifts that fill that requirement. There you will find DVDs that offer a meaningful alternative to television, games and puzzles that are not only fun but can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and other activities that improve quality of life in general.
It is also important to consider the stage he or she is in when selecting a present for a person with Alzheimer’s. In the earliest stages, gifts need not be 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, but should still reflect her interests and keep her involved. 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.
- 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
- Photo Phone
- 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
- Nature videos/Other videos that feature visual and auditory stimulation
- Doll or stuffed animal
- Weighted lap pad or apron
- Special clothing that makes dressing and undressing easier
Gifts for 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. Day care facilities for people with Alzheimer’s disease are getting increasingly common. If there is daycare in the caregiver’s area, arrange for the person with dementia or Alzheimer’s to spend a day there.
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 if the person with Alzheimer’s 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.
And if you are the primary caregiver for a parent, spouse or grandparent, don’t forget to pamper yourself as often as possible.