Dementia can mean an extended grief, losing someone you love little by little, instead of all at once. This grief finds you in small moments, like a forgotten memory or the inability to drive, and also swells into powerful and painful events, like a parent forgetting a child’s name, or someone you love getting lost.
And yet, dementia also comes with inexplicable moments of clarity. Suddenly, your loved one may recall a song, or a treasured memory when you least expect it. And you may be able to bring about those moments with some gifts for people with dementia. For example, a photograph may lead to a sudden recall, or a song may offer some much-needed calm and nostalgia. These moments remind us that the love and the memories that you so crave from your dementia patient are still there, even when they cannot access them.
We’ve compiled a list of some potential gift ideas for dementia patients of all sorts below. We’ve considered both the unique challenges of dementia and the more sentimental gifts. We’ll also break down what sort of features to look for in a gift so that you’re well prepared to find something special just about anywhere!
By the way, remember to treat yourself every once in a while, too. You deserve some appreciation for the hard work you put in as well.
Finding the Perfect Gift for Dementia Patients
As mentioned, a common struggle when it comes to finding gifts for a dementia patient is the simple fact that dementia can significantly alter the way a senior thinks, remembers, and behaves. Some seniors with more severe cases of dementia may be even harder to shop for.
Still, you want to make the holiday season (or a birthday, or whatever the case may be) as special as it can be for your senior. So, how can you find amazing gifts for those in your life with dementia without breaking the bank?
A great first step might be to think about or jot down some ideas. As a caregiver, you likely know your senior better than anyone else – you might want to consider their general interests, likes and dislikes, etc., when you begin to gift-hunt.
Also important is to take note of what sort of limitations you may need to consider (if any). Does your senior frequently struggle with physical activity? Is your senior a fan of creative activities like drawing or painting?
The best way to make a gift special might just be to ensure that it comes from the heart. Remember, no one idea may seem perfect, but the thought and care that goes into selecting something meaningful for a loved one is worth more than anything else.
Things to Look For
As mentioned, you might find it helpful to think about not just what your senior likes and dislikes, but also what sort of challenges may come into play.
Here are some things to think about when gift-shopping for seniors with dementia:
- Are there any areas of your senior’s life that could stand to be improved? For example, if your senior is frequently chilly, a nice sweater or a fuzzy blanket can be a great idea.
- What sort of activities does your senior enjoy?
- What about these activities do they enjoy?
- Can the gift have a positive impact on your senior?
- This may sound obvious, but sometimes even the most simple gifts are meaningful enough just be improving the lives of those who receive them.
Gift Ideas for People With Dementia
Now that we’ve discussed some things to keep in mind when gift shopping for a dementia patient, we’re better prepared to think about specific gift ideas.
We’ve broken down our list of ideas into some subcategories to make things a little easier and help understand the value of each sort of gift, but these lists are not exhaustive. It may inspire ideas of your own, and that’s perfectly fine!
Personal gifts can encompass all sorts of things, but we’re mainly thinking of gifts that are personally significant to your senior in some way – like a cookbook from their favorite cook, or something else specific to them.
These kinds of gifts can often feel the most meaningful. After all, you have to know someone quite well to be able to find gifts specifically tailored to them!
We have some ideas to share with you, but the best personal gift is likely one that you will come up with on your own to best fit your senior. And remember the best gift for dementia patients will always be quality time. Click here for some ideas of activities for dementia patients.
Personal Gift Ideas:
- A book written by your senior’s favorite author, or a movie that has their favorite actor.
- Music – a CD, a vinyl record, or even just a digital copy.
- This is especially great because music is a wonderful and healing method of expression, which might just be what a dementia patient needs.
- Home goods or home decor
- If your senior likes to cook, maybe some nice cooking accessories, for example
- A trip out to a special place, like a favorite store, the library, the park, etc.
- Photos – especially nice if you can frame and hang them in the places your senior spends a lot of time
- Specialized clothes, tools, etc., for dementia patients
- Many products targeted toward dementia patients are available on the market.
- A scrapbook, photo album, or something else handmade
- A batch of your senior’s favorite sweet treat, or another special homemade meal
- Not all gifts have to be from the store! Handmaking or creating gifts at home is an excellent option if you’re running short on funds, or if you just want to make things more personal.
This list is not a strict guide, but it is meant to help give you some ideas or inspire some thought about what sort of gift ideas may work for your senior. Feel free to get creative or fun with things!
Dementia (and life in general!) can be quite stressful. The emotional, mental, and physical ups and downs of the condition can take an immense toll on an individual over time. Sometimes the best gifts are those that remind others that we care about them.
Comfort gifts are a great idea for that reason. If you want to take things a step further, compiling something like a care package is a great way to show your senior that you love them and are thinking of them.
Here are some ideas for gifts that are comforting and thoughtful:
- A soft, warm blanket
- A fuzzy robe
- Slippers, socks, or shoes designed for seniors
- Candles, incense, or other forms of aromatherapy
- A weighted blanket
- These are great for seniors who have a hard time sleeping or struggle with nighttime anxiety
- A stuffed animal or other plush toys
- New clothing, or some sets of pajamas/comfy clothing
- Heating or ice pad, massagers, or other tools to help with chronic pain
- A thoughtful, hand-written card or letter
If your goal is to put your senior’s mind to work, then mentally-stimulating gifts are the way to go.
These gifts could essentially be anything that engages your senior mentally, but those that involve hands-on interaction might be especially rewarding.
Remember to consider your seniors strengths and weaknesses when looking for gifts; what’s fun and thought-provoking for one senior may be frustrating and seemingly impossible for another.
Here are some ideas for mentally-stimulating, enriching gifts:
- This is a great example of a way to adapt a gift for your senior: if a large puzzle with a lot of pieces seems like it will be more stress-inducing than comforting, try out a puzzle with fewer pieces or one with an easier design.
- Books, short stories, magazines – whatever your senior likes to read
- Word searches, crossword puzzles, or other word games
- Coloring books
- Craft supplies
- A journal or notebook
The term “entertaining gifts” might sound silly – after all, aren’t all gifts supposed to be entertaining? Our ideas for this category are those that don’t really have a purpose other than to be fun!
If you’re looking for something simple or something to bring more joy into your senior’s life, this sort of gift might just be perfect. Here are some ideas for entertaining gifts for seniors of all kinds:
- Board games
- This is a great way to encourage family members or friends to engage with your senior!
- A season of your senior’s favorite TV show
- A copy of your senior’s favorite movie
- Food gifts, like baked goods, favorite snacks, etc.
- Trips out to do something fun together, like seeing a show or eating a meal together at a restaurant
- Tech devices
- This could be something like a tablet, which your senior could use to entertain themselves during the day, or something more practical like a new alarm clock
Finding a great gift for anyone is a real challenge, and that’s especially the case when you’re shopping for gifts for people with dementia. It can be difficult to come up with ideas that are as thoughtful as they are helpful.
Fortunately, as we’ve shown, there are lots of wonderful options for meaningful gifts for dementia patients. Even if nothing on our lists has resonated with you, the thought process and questions that we discussed early on are great tools to help you come up with ideas of your own.
The holiday season, birthdays, or other gift-giving occasions can be stressful parts of life, but they don’t have to be. You’ve now got the tools to find an amazing gift for your senior, even if they struggle with dementia.
If you ever need more help and support for yourself and your senior, especially around the holidays, check out our guide for dementia care. Caregivers can also find all sorts of resources and tips on our blog. We post new content weekly.