Present buying can be a tricky enough endeavour be it for a birthday, anniversary or Christmas. Then there’s trying to think of an idea for that special someone who has a form of dementia - where do you start?
Luckily, there are actually a lot of thoughtful options in this space now as well some really creative ideas that have been inspired directly from elderly or dementia related needs. In the spirit of the season itself we’ve listed our twelve favourites here to help you find that perfect gift for those older loved ones in your life. Let us know how you get on at email@example.com or @grandpalco on Twitter 💙
Note: We’ve ordered these ranging from light to severe dementia in an effort to somewhat assist appropriate gift buying. That said, we trust you to gage your loved ones’ abilities best.
Family photo albums
Something sentimental like a well labelled photo album is a lovely way to give something both personal and useful. In the moderate stages of Alzeimher's and other dementias this can trigger great memories. A thoughtfully laid out digital photo frame could work similarly too.
One way of helping with the uncertainty your loved one faces is a day clock - this presents the time, day, month and year in large, clear numbers. They’re easy to browse and find online (ie. Amazon), and won’t break the bank.
Velcro strap shoes
In certain cases, dementia can cause folks difficulty with finger dexterity or even to forget the steps involved to tie a shoelace. Velcro straps on shoes make this step much easier giving the individual more independence plus can be easily tightened or loosened by caregivers and seniors.
Comfort and warmth are a great way to bring calmness to feelings of agitation or anxiety often experienced by those with dementia, as well as another way to fight off the cold.
Games and puzzles
If you keep this familiar it’s a great way for your older pal to engage with some older memories and have some fun. Think games with minimal rules - Checkers, Snakes & Ladders, Dominoes, etc. Bigger puzzle pieces will be better for older hands to handle and manipulate. Fewer puzzle pieces will result in easier solving.
Weighted lap pad
Another wonderful way to help reduce stress and calm nerves is a weighted lap pad (or blanket). Proven to provide relief and sensory input similar to deep pressure therapy. they’ve become increasingly popular with children and adults alike helping them to self regulate. They’re also quite discreet. Please note that people with respiratory, circulatory, or temperature regulation problems may not be able to use a weighted lap pad so run it by their physician first.
Similar to the benefits provided by a bathrobe, this is considerate gift for somebody who is confined to a wheelchair and/or who has difficulty with sleeves. Typically you can have these robes fitted to a specific wheelchair size and model.
By ensuring you buy a pair with non-slip soles both your older loved one and you will feel at ease knowing they can be confident, comfortable and safe as they move around. Not to mention stylish!
When communication levels are down and you want to find a way to connect, art can be a great way to transcend the limitation of their dementia. Tap into their creativity, or curiousity, with an activity you can enjoy together. It’s also helpful for motor skills at the same time as being fun enough to forgive those with poorer dexterity.
Perfect for a loved one who still likes to get dressed up! This doesn’t have to be expensive, many lower-priced accessory shops have great ranges and tasteful options. The variety of colors, shapes, and sizes of pieces can all be interesting for someone with dementia - a lovely way to can create some fun (and photographable!) memories together.
Cuddly toy pets, “Twiddle muffs” and fidget blankets are excellent ways to provide comfort, focus, and a bit of exercise for hand muscles. Twiddle muffs are knitted tubes with items attached to the outside. Items can be buttons, small bells, keys, or anything with a distinct feeling. Fidget blankets or fidget quilts come in a lot of different shapes and sizes, and they provide sensory and tactile stimulation. Often covered with similar items and a variety of textures. Both keep fidgeting hands “busy.”
Portable music player
A portable stereo or media player is such a great stimulant for those with a form of dementia. Music is an art form that can encourage reminiscing and with some thoughtful music choices (ie. certain era/decade) this can have huge emotional significance for your older loved one. It’s also been proven to help relaxation and reduce stress. If in a care facility, consider including headphones with this present so that they don’t disturb the wider group with their favourite Frank Sinatra.