Holidays can be difficult for family, friends as well as the person with dementia. Often as family and friends gather to celebrate symptoms of dementia become clear. Memory loss may be more evident, anxiety sometimes increases in a crowd where there’s lots of noise and conversation, and unfamiliar surroundings may reveal challenges that don’t exist at home.
The Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter also 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. Its purpose is to help alleviate some of the stress associated with the additional activities and changes in routine at this time of year.
If you have a caregiver or a person with Alzheimer’s on your gift-giving list, the Alzheimer’s Association has some suggestions to make your shopping a bit easier.
Gifts for those living 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-sized diary or notebook
- erasable whiteboards for key rooms in the house
- a memorable calendar featuring family photos – write 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 their 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 CD with a compilation of favorite tunes
- VHS/DVD collection of favorite movies
- activities such as scrapbooking or other craft projects
In the middle-to-late stages
Sensory stimulation gifts. Stimulating the five senses may bring back pleasant memories. Give gifts such as:
- scented lotions
- a fluffy bathrobe in a favorite color
- a soft blanket or afghan to keep warm
Clothes. Get comfortable, easy to remove, easily washable clothes such as:
- sweat suits
- large banded socks
- shoes with Velcro ties
- wrinkle-free nightgowns, nightshirts and 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. Buy favorite CDs or burn a CD full of musical favorites.
Framed photographs or a photo collage. Copy photos of family members & friends and insert the names of the people into the photos. Put them in frames or in a photo album created specifically for that person.
MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return: Enroll the person in MedicAlert + Safe Return, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for wandering and medical emergencies.
Gifts for caregivers
- Gift cards and certificates. Give gift 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 also a number of books on caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Purchase DVR/TiVo and a year’s worth of service so the caregiver can record favorite shows or sports programs he or she may not be able to watch in real time due to care responsibilities.
- The gift of time. Cost-effective and truly meaningful gifts are self-made coupons for cleaning the house, cooking a meal, mowing the lawn, shoveling the driveway, and giving time off so a caregiver can do something to meet their needs.