Have you ever wondered, “What should I get my dad with dementia for a present?” We can help.
A Father’s Day gift can bring comfort and joy to your loved one living in memory care, and it can allow your family to celebrate the things that make your dad special. However, figuring out what gifts to buy someone with dementia can be tough, as it may seem like their community has everything they need. Generally, you should look for gifts that are simple, easy to use, and tailored to specific interests so that your loved one isn’t confused by an unexpected change to their routine.
Here are 10 gifts for dads with dementia that will make their Father’s Day a little more special.
This is a simple-but-practical gift for dads with dementia. Sweatsuits are comfortable and easy to put on, and they’re perfect for doing something active or relaxing indoors. If your dad struggles to get dressed in the morning, an adaptive sweatsuit may make it easier for him to get dressed. Adaptive clothing has special design features for people with disabilities such as Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Check out this magnetic zipper hoodie that’s perfect for seniors with decreased dexterity.
Board games are an excellent activity for creating social connections in memory care. Although some board games may be too difficult for your dad at this stage, you can buy dementia-friendly board games.Games will keep your dad’s mind active while allowing him to socialize. Popular games for seniors with dementia include bingo, checkers, and I spy.
Photos of friends and family are a lovely Father’s Day gift for dads with Alzheimer’s because they can remind your dad of the people that love him. Seniors with dementia, however, can have more and more trouble over time trying to connect an image with a memory of the person it represents. You can help your dad get more out of his photos by putting them into a talking photo album. These allow you to record a message for each image, so you and other family members can record reminders of who you are and how much you care about him.
While it may be tough finding space for all of your father’s photos in his memory care community, you can fix this by buying your dad a digital photo frame, which will rotate his uploaded photos, giving him hundreds of photos in one convenient location.
Nature documentaries are excellent for memory care entertainment because they don’t require seniors to focus on complicated plots. Nature documentaries often switch between different animals and places, so seniors don’t have to remember countless details to appreciate the film. Try finding a documentary set in a place your father has visited, such as a national park.
Sometimes called cannula sleeves, fidget sleeves are arm cuffs that seniors with dementia can use to reduce restlessness and agitation. Give your gift a special touch by customizing your dad’s fidget sleeve with his favorite colors or patterns. Check out this handy knitting pattern to make your own!
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Music therapy improves understanding, mood, behavior, and communication for seniors with dementia. The Simple Music Player is designed specifically for those with dementia. Load it with music you know dad likes, and all he has to do is lift the handle that says “Lift to Play Music” to hear his favorite songs.
Ideally, your dad’s memory care residence encourages him to get outside during the day. But, if it isn’t a habit, you can still help him get some of the benefits of sunlight in his room. A quality seasonal affective disorder (SAD) lamp can help improve your dad’s mood and help reset his internal clock — potentially helping reduce the effects of sundown syndrome. If your dad is prone to seasonal depression, this gift may help relieve some of his symptoms.
A cellphone with a camera allows your dad to connect with his loved ones, capture memories, and stay safe during emergencies. The two most popular options available today are flip phones, which have fewer functions, and smartphones, which offer updated features such as video chat capabilities and GPS tracking. If you choose a smartphone, look for a large screen, high volume settings, and increased brightness. Check out our handy rundown of the top cellphones for seniors for more information.
If your dad’s current phone is too complicated, you can make it easier for him to reach out to you with a picture phone. These dementia-friendly phones feature large, simple displays that you can customize with a picture of each contact. Your dad will be able to call his preprogrammed contacts with the simple press of a button.
Make your dad a meal that he’s unlikely to receive in his memory care residence. Bring him that casserole he always got seconds (or thirds) of, or a bowl of your mom’s signature chili. Good food can reignite memories and spark conversations about the past. Stick with a recipe that doesn’t go against his doctor’s recommendations, or experiment with substitutions to create a new rendition of his favorite dish.
Dementia can often cause anxiety. If you notice that your dad is visibly more anxious, or if memory care staff have said that he’s experiencing anxiety, depression, or insomnia, a weighted blanketmay help relieve his symptoms. Weighted blankets have a calming effect that can help an individual reduce stress and sleep better.
American Psychological Association. (2015) Living well with dementia.
Nall, R. (2018, September 27). What to know about sundowner’s syndrome?Medical News Today.