Holiday Gift Ideas for People Living with Alzheimer’s Disease

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The following ideas for what to buy—and not buy—for people with Alzheimer’s disease are from the Alzheimer’s Association website. For gift ideas for everyone that help support research into Alzheimer’s disease, visit http://shop.alz.org/ for their variety of fine items.

Clothes

Comfortable, easy to remove, easily washable clothes such as sweat suits, knits, 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. So buy favorite CDs or burn a CD full of musical favorites.

Entertainment

Plan an outing to a movie, play or concert, sporting event, museum or possibly an organized holiday shopping outing with friends and family. Give a VHS/DVD collection of favorite movies. Consider activities such as scrapbooking or other craft projects that are social in nature.

Framed Photographs or Photo Collages

Copy photos of family members and friends at photo centers, insert the names of the people in the photo and put them in frames or in a photo album created specifically for that person.

Safe Return®

Enroll the person in the later stages of Alzheimer’s in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return®, a nationwide identification program that provides assistance when a person with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia wanders and becomes lost locally or far from home.

Early Stage Gift Ideas

Approximately 2.5 million people currently living with Alzheimer’s are in the early stage of the disease, a period when they can live active, healthy lives, but may begin to notice subtle changes. Here are some gift ideas for people living in the early stages of the disease.

Items to help remember things such as 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; or a memorable calendar featuring family photos—write in special family occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.

Items that may help with daily activities such as a memory phone that can store up to eight pictures with the names and contact information of family and friends; an automatic medication dispenser that can help the person living with Alzheimer’s remember to take his/her medicine; nightlights that come on automatically when it gets dark; and a clock with the date and time in large type.

Moderate/Late Stage Gift Ideas

People in the later stages of Alzheimer’s generally need assistance with day-to-day activities as their memory grows weaker. Here are some gift ideas for people living in the later stages of the disease:

Items that provide sensory stimulation…In the later stages of the disease, sensory stimulation may bring back pleasant memories, so gift ideas include scented lotions, a fluffy bathrobe in his or her favorite color, a soft blanket or an afghan to keep the person warm.

Items to Avoid

You might want to think twice before buying some gifts. Giving electronics may seem like a good idea to make life easier for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, but that isn’t always the case. If you decide to give someone with the disease a new piece of electronic equipment, remember to review the operating instructions with them slowly and more than once. Make a copy of the instructions for the them and  for yourself, so you can talk them through the process on the phone if you need to.