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

Posted on 12/03/21

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Holidays can be stressful enough, but when you add in a person living with dementia, gatherings with family and friends become more complex. Finding the right gift for our loved ones can be 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 scrapbooking or other craft projects

Activity gifts that can give a sense of accomplishment

  • Wooden toolbox set (includes wooden tools, nails, screws, nuts and bolts)
  • Lacing beads (large wooden beads and a shoelace)
  • Magnetic spelling trays
  • Flower arranging (fake flowers, foam block and a vase or basket)
  • Plastic nuts and bolts set

Having your loved one help in making homemade gifts for the family (painting ornaments, decorating stockings, table setting decorations or place cards, etc.)

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 * MedicAlert, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for wandering and medical emergencies.

Soothing gifts that can help with anxiety

  • Weighted blankets
  • Weighted fidget mat
  • Handheld massage ball
  • Diffuser with lavender essential oil
  • Activity and sensory apron
  • Gelwave activity pad
  • Stuffed animal
  • Photo blanket
  • Sensory pillow or wrist cuff
  • Diffuser with lavender essential oil

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

Contact: Jim Herlihy, Marketing & Communications Director (720) 699-9286 or jherlihy@alz.org

*This is not an AARP event/activity. Any information you provide to the host organization will be governed by its privacy policy.

This story is provided by AARP Colorado. Visit the AARP Colorado page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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