In caring for a loved one with dementia, you may find that your loved one’s symptoms are causing them varying levels of discomfort and stress. Fortunately, there are positive, healthy ways to help your loved one manage any stress associated with their dementia diagnosis, which can in turn help lower the risk for negative health consequences.
It’s essential that the gift you give your loved one helps alleviate that discomfort, bringing them a sense of peace and joy instead. Make sure gifts for someone with dementia are simple, useful, and tailored to their personal likes and capabilities. Keep in mind their past career, unique hobbies, and the stage of dementia they’re currently in. These factors can help you determine which gift may ultimately be the best fit.
The following products can reignite memories and give your loved one a sense of joy and comfort, whether your loved one lives at home or in a memory care community. They can also encourage your senior to self-direct, giving you a much-needed break. Games and activities can help calm stress and anxiety, help reduce cognitive decline, and foster social connection.
The curated list below is full of great dementia-friendly gifts for birthdays, holidays, or any special occasion. Whether you’re looking for one-of-a-kind gifts for a mom with dementia or a present to nurture the heart of a nature lover, there’s something for everyone here.
People with early-stage dementia are still relatively independent, social, and have good communication skills. They’re just starting to see some signs of dementia in their daily lives, like forgetting common words or misplacing everyday objects. Innovative products for seniors may help support your loved one during this stage of dementia.
If you’re looking for gift ideas for someone with an early dementia, consider options that distract their minds, calm their nerves, and ignite fond memories are ideal. Read below for some ideas to get you started.
Game and activity gift ideas for dementia patients
Games can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. This gift idea for dementia patients not only initiates social interaction but also boosts cognitive thinking and brings some joy and entertainment. The following are a few good examples:
- A photo memory game is a great gift idea for someone with early dementia. In this set, each game consists of 24 cards and can feature up to 12 different photos. This personable and interactive gift can help keep the mind sharp while bringing a delightful and familiar smile to your loved one’s face. Be sure to include meaningful text and their favorite photographs or memories of grandchildren, friends, or pets. It’s perfect for any occasion.
- PICLINK is a multi-game set of 36 tiles designed for individuals with cognitive impairment or disabilities. This game is perfect for all ability levels and includes photos of different categories like people, structures, transportation, food, and more. It can encourage conversations, reinforce memories, and keep seniors engaged.
- Dementia-friendly puzzles allow you to choose any number of puzzle piece sets with various designs such as nature, sports, and other themes. They’re an entertaining and easy activity to participate in with your loved one. You can invite friends and grandchildren to join in on the fun too! After you complete the puzzle, you can frame it and keep it as a memory, or make completing puzzles a regular family tradition around the holidays.
- Board games for dementia patients are a fun way to help improve your loved one’s dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and mental strength. Set aside some time to play together for an added sense of attention and social connection.
- Spend time together by planning an engaging dementia-friendly activity to enjoy with your loved one at home. From knitting and crocheting to experiments with sounds and reminiscence therapy, the creative opportunities of at-home activities are practically limitless.
Creative and stimulating gifts for dementia patients
The best gifts typically engage the heart, mind, and soul. Here are a few gifts tailored to encourage the artistic side of seniors who are passionate about art, music, or self-expression. Examples of items that can help get your loved one’s creative juices flowing include the following:
- Aquapaint is the perfect way to write, draw, and create masterpieces with no mess. Because of its durable paper, it’s a great gift for anyone with limited hand control. Your loved one can paint on the surface, but as the water slowly evaporates, the image dissolves, leaving a clean slate. It’s the ideal gift for those who love to draw or use their hands because it encourages creativity over and over again.
- The Simple Music Player is unique because of its dementia-friendly design. It comes in a few different color options and is pre-loaded with music. You can also upload custom playlists to match your loved one’s preferences. There are only three buttons used to operate the entire device. And, it’s strategically designed to be reminiscent of an old-fashioned radio. This music player allows dementia patients to enjoy their favorite music while also reaping thebenefits of music therapy, which can include improved memory and lowered stress levels.
- Therapy Dough is an infused, colorful, grown-up version of play dough that can ease tension and reduce stress and fidgeting. Watch your loved one’s imagination light up as they squeeze and mold dough to create their own art. Add lavender oil to provide a calming effect or peppermint oil to increase energy and awareness. Many art therapists use clay or dough to reduce depression and anxiety. It’s a fun yet simple way to help your loved one unwind.
- A custom photo book is a sentimental gift any loved one will enjoy. Choose anything from images of your loved one’s favorite vacation spots to beloved family photos to spark heart-warming memories you can reminisce about together.
- A music therapy teddy bear is a plush, stuffed bear that will help calm any agitation your dementia patient may be experiencing. Its comforting, fluffy texture is complemented by an MP3 player to which you can download your loved one’s favorite music.
In the middle stages of dementia, seniors’ symptoms begin to get much more noticeable and start altering their behaviors. They may start having trouble performing daily tasks like bathing, dressing, or using the bathroom. You may also notice they’re confusing their words and memories more often. These heightened symptoms can be agitating for your loved one and lead to frustration for both of you. However, despite these behavioral changes, your loved one can likely still recall certain names, faces, and memories.
In late-stage dementia, seniors are typically no longer capable of performing their regular daily activities or hobbies. They may also be exhibiting more signs of agitation, restlessness, or even aggression. You want to be mindful of what your loved one is going through as you broach the thought of buying them a gift.
A good rule of thumb for a middle- to late-stage dementia gift is to focus less on having them complete an activity and more on encouraging simplicity, calmness, and relaxation. Below are a few gift ideas to get you started.
Helpful gifts for dementia patients
A loved one with moderate dementia is experiencing heightened symptoms but may still have some of their memories and communication skills. Products that can help ease their memory loss symptoms and maintain a sense of independence are great for middle-stage dementia. Here are a couple of examples of assistive products for seniors that can do just that:
- A memory picture phone can be an excellent gift for seniors who may be intimidated by or not able to use technology easily. This 10-button, corded picture phone includes an emergency button, and each button is a frame meant to hold the photo of a family member or friend. The phone is hearing aid compatible and ensures effortless communication.
- A digital alarm clock and reminder assistant is a modern clock that includes a digital alarm clock and spells out the date and time in large, clear letters. The clock is voice-activated and can record up to 25 personal reminders. There are no confusing abbreviations, and the clock has a battery backup in case of a power outage.
Dementia-friendly fidget toys
Ideal for seniors in late-stage dementia, fidget toys for dementia patients are carefully designed therapeutic tools that can provide comfort and calming sensations for your loved one. They relieve boredom by providing a variety of tactile stimulation options. You can find them online and in various stores, or, if you’re handy with a sewing machine or drill, can be easily made at home. Their attachments can include colorful sequins, a coin purse, Velcro, buckles, and more to keep your loved one at ease while resting or sitting.
Fidget toys can come in a variety of shapes and styles, including the following:
- Dementia-friendly busy boards are made of wood and are meant to be placed on a table or on a person’s lap. Fun attachments can include sliding tiles and small doors to open and close.
- Fidget blankets for dementia, also known as busy blankets or activity blankets, are squares of fabric with movable objects sewn onto one side, such as Velcro strips and zippers.
- Fidget pillows, also known as activity pillows, are very similar to fidget blankets, but they take the shape of a plush cushion or stuffed animal. They’re very portable and can come with interactive attachments, like pockets, buttons, and bells, on one or both sides.
- The Playable ART Ball fidget toyis an artistic wooden toy built of smooth, safe, movable spheres. The spheres can be arranged to make things like holders for pens and phones. The spheres come in 12- or 20-ball designs with multiple finish options to choose from. These open-ended toys provide stimulation and the opportunity to use the imagination. They not only help with hand dexterity but can be a simple way to have fun while building something unique.
Helpful and assistive gadgets for dementia patients
Gifts that simplify everyday life or make tasks easier can be excellent choices for any senior with dementia but especially for those in later stages. The following are gift ideas that may be able to reduce stress or streamline aspects of day-to-day life:
- Adaptive clothing is a great gift for anyone who struggles to get dressed independently. People in late-stage dementia typically require dressing assistance from another person. Look for clothing that doesn’t have to be pulled over the head to avoid unnecessary agitation. These shirts from Silverts have a detachable back. The wearer can simply slip it over their arms and fasten it at their shoulders.
- Adaptive equipment and utensils can help with things like transferring and feeding. A transfer bench, for example, helps a senior move from in and out of the shower. Additionally, adaptive feeding tools are specially designed to help seniors eat and drink with more ease and independence.
- A nonslip shower mat — always a good idea —will help keep your loved one safe and comfortable during bath time.
Sensory gifts for dementia patients
Self-care is important for everyone, especially for seniors with dementia, and self-care can provide quick relief and reduce tension. For seniors who are experiencing overstimulation or agitation, here are a few gift ideas to help calm their nerves.
- Scented items and aromatherapy have been known to calm, reduce stress, and convey other beneficial effects on seniors with dementia. Aromatherapy can benefit dementia patients by helping counter behaviors like aggression and agitation. An essential oil diffuser is a great gift to start incorporating aromatherapy into your loved one’s life. Add in a few drops of essential oils, like lavender or peppermint, you can give your loved one a spa-like feeling day or night by creating a soothing atmosphere.
- Soft knit pajamas and other cozy clothes can help your loved one feel cozy and cared for. Everybody needs something comfortable to sleep in or bundle up in. If you know your loved one’s favorite color or style, Buck and Buck is a quality brand with several options. Many of this company’s offerings provide optimal comfort and are designed to make getting dressed easier for those with dementia or disabilities. You can sort through a variety of flannel gowns, shirts, and knit pajamas for women, as well as flannel pajamas for men with a Velcro strap or zipper.
- A chunky knit blanket can provide warmth and coziness all year long. It can be decorative yet perfect for curling up and watching a movie with a loved one or pet. There are many different styles, colors, and textures to choose from. It’s a relaxing gift that can work well for anyone nearly anytime.
- An indoor gardening kit or plant. The benefits of gardening are significant. Caring for a plant can inspire feelings of confidence and purpose, and can add beauty to the home. However, it’s important to ensure that plants are non-toxic and easy to care for.
There are many ways to show your loved one some gratitude and appreciation. Whether it’s through spending time with them, sending a meaningful letter, giving the perfect gift, or a combination of the preceding, your loved one will be thrilled with your final gift decision.
If you need help caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another dementia-related disease, consider reaching out to a Senior Living Advisor at A Place for Mom. Their services are free to you, and they’ll help you find the right kind of care to match your and your loved one’s needs.