Christmas gift ideas for loved-ones with dementia

Wayne is trying out some of the Twistables by Crayola.
Wayne is trying out some of the Twistables by Crayola.

Once friends or loved-ones begin their journey down the path of dementia, gift giving becomes much more difficult. Previous interests change or fall away. Abilities diminish, concentration and focus shorten as senses dull. Warm socks, stretchy pants and button-up tops may make dressing easier, but finding something your loved one would enjoy can also make a nice gift.

Gifts for the three stages of dementia

EARLY STAGE

  • Goldfish- easy to maintain, inexpensive to replace
  •  Jigsaw Puzzles-specifically tailored to age and level of loved-one’s ability. Number of pieces should match their ability and interests
  • Adult Coloring books – especially the books themed from the1950s. Pictures and information from that era may also trigger memories from youth.  Crayola Twistables  are nice and sturdy to fit in an older hand.
  • Favorite movies such as “Sound of Music”, “Miracle on 34th Street” along with any Bob Hope, John Wayne or Gary Cooper movies
  • CDs,an ipad or radio. Any type of music your loved one might enjoy. If you are not sure, go to BBC Music Memories and play snippets of songs from a variety of eras and types until you  learn what songs provide enjoyment.
  • Card games such as ImageSnap card game

MID STAGE

LATE STAGE

Since one of the companion maladies that often accompanies dementia is loss of the ability to smell, perfume or scented soaps are not items that would bring the joy to your loved-one they hadin the past. Many folks with declining ability also have food limitations dueto diabetes and other medical issues. Because of that, gifts of candy or otherfoods may not be appropriate.

One lesson that I learned about candy was that at some point, my Mama lost the ability to distinguish between the candy and the paper wrapper. She would often try to put the whole thing in her mouth – wrapper and all. Things that require batteries can also be a problem along with any article of clothing that has intricate snaps, buttons or closures.

A Word of advice on gift giving

Giving your loved-one a present is wonderful, but to really brighten up their day try to arrange it so that you can participate in the activity. For example, don’t simply give a movie – watch it with them. Bring a color book for yourself and plan to spend a bit of time coloring together. Best of all, instead of handing your loved-one a CD of old songs, attempt to discover music they loved as a youth, learn the lyrics and have a sing-along. The time spent together is the best gift of all.


Gifts for Caregivers

Cover of New Every Day
Paperback or Kindle edition

A friend of mine, Dave Meurer has just published a book titled, New Every Day – Navigating Alzheimer’s with Grace and compassion. He is an award-winning author and writer of a multitude of books dealing with family life.  I have loved every book Dave has written – they are always filled with humor, love, and insight. You will not be disappointed.

From the Back of the Book: A friend on the journey of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s. It breaks your heart, disrupts your plans, and consumes enormous amounts of time and energy. When someone you love has Alzheimer’s, you need more than just information on the disease–you need a break. You need a laugh. You need a friend by your side who knows exactly what you’re facing.
Award-winning humorist Dave Meurer is that friend. New Every Day is packed with practical information–like where to look for financial help and how to get the DMV to take away the car keys so you don’t take the heat for it–along with plenty of true stories from Meurer’s own experiences navigating life with a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Here you will find both hard-earned wisdom and badly needed comic relief for your journey down this difficult road. With compassion born of experience, Meurer helps caregivers develop the ability to relax, adapt, and even laugh again.


Paperback or Kindle edition
Paperback or Kindle edition

Caring for a loved one with dementia 
My book, “FinishingWell: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and tips about doing life with my Mama, who fought the good fightwith dementia for over a decade.The journey down the pathwayof dementia is seldom static. Change is the norm. Like lost pieces in a puzzle,the picture never quite comes together—something is always missing.

Dementia is a tough disease. It wreaks havoc on the emotions of both loved ones and caregivers. It can often be a long trek – taking you up the hills of lost-ness and confusion, as well as down through the valley of the shadow of death. We don’t know how to fix it nor do we have all the answers, but we have walked this road. It is our prayer that the anecdotes in this book will be both a help and an encouragement for your own unique journey.

Caring for my Mama through her decline felt like an uncharted wilderness. Resources were few and far between. There wasn’t a lot available in the way of guidance or help, but we were determined to bring as much joy as possible along the way in spite of the challenges. 
This is our story – actually, it’s Mama’s – who loved to say, that despite every difficulty, she was still in good shape for the shape she is was in. 


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