Holiday gift ideas for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers

Holidays can be stressful enough, but when you add in a person living with dementia, gatherings with family and friends become more complex. After months apart, symptoms of dementia, including memory loss, may become clear. For the person living with the disease, anxiety may increase in a crowd where there’s lots of noise and conversation, and unfamiliar surroundings may reveal challenges that don’t exist at home.

Finding the right gift under these circumstances can be more challenging. The Alzheimer’s Association offers a caregiver holiday guide that shows how, with careful planning, family celebrations can be a meaningful part of the holidays while ensuring safety, comfort and enjoyment for everyone. If you have a caregiver or a person with Alzheimer’s on your gift-giving list,we’ve got some suggestions to make your shopping a bit easier.

Gifts for people with Alzheimer’s – in the early stages

Items to help remember things:

  • Magnetic reminder refrigerator pads
  • Post-it notes
  • Baskets or trays that can be labeled within cabinets or drawers
  • A small pocket-size diary or notebook
  • Erasable whiteboards for key rooms in the house
  • A memorable calendar featuring family photos – write in special family occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries

Items to help with everyday tasks:

  • A memory phone that can store up to eight pictures with the names and contact information of family and friends
  • Automatic medication dispenser that can help the person living with Alzheimer’s remember to take medicine
  • Nightlights that come on automatically when it gets dark
  • A clock with the date and time in large type

Items to help keep the person engaged:

  • An outing to a movie, play or concert, sporting event, museum or possibly an organized holiday shopping trip with friends and family
  • Favorite musical CDs or a CD with a compilation of favorite tunes
  • DVD collection of favorite movies
  • Activities such as scrap booking or other craft projects

Gifts for people with Alzheimer’s – in the middle-to-late stages

Gifts that stimulate the five senses may bring back pleasant memories:

  • Scented lotions
  • A fluffy bathrobe in a favorite color
  • A soft blanket or afghan to keep warm
  • Comfortable clothes that are easy to remove and washable, such as sweatsuits, knits, large banded socks,shoes with Velcro ties, wrinkle-free nightgowns, nightshirts or robes
  • Music – research shows that music has a positive impact on individuals with Alzheimer’s, bringing them back to good times, increasing stimulation and providing an opportunity to interact with family members
  • Framed photographs or a photo collage – insert the names of the people in the photo and put in frames or in a photo album created specifically for that person
  • Enroll the person in Medic Alert+ Safe Return, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for wandering and medical emergencies.

Gifts for caregivers

The most important gift you can give a caregiver is the gift of time:

  • Self-made coupons for cleaning the house, cooking a meal, mowing the lawn or shoveling the driveway
  • Time off so a caregiver can do something to meet their needs
  • Gift cards and certificates for restaurants, laundry/dry cleaning services, lawn care services,computer/technology support, maid services, and personal pampering services such as massages and pedicures
  • Books – in addition to giving novels on the caregiver’s “must read” list, there are a number of books on caregiving
  • Purchase a DVR so the caregiver can record favorite shows or sports programs that he or she may not be able to watch in real time due to care responsibilities

The Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter covers a 64-county area with offices in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Durango, Fort Collins,Grand Junction, Greeley and Pueblo.

Since 1980, the chapter has provided reliable information and care consultation, created supportive services for families, increased funding for dementia research, and influenced public policy changes. The Colorado Chapter serves more than 320,000 Coloradans affected by Alzheimer’s disease, including more than 71,000 people living with the disease.

For more information, visit www.alz.org/co or call the free 24-hour Helpline at (800) 272-3900.

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