31 October 2017
Gift ideas for someone living with dementia
Christmas is fast approaching and you may be starting to think about gift ideas for your loved ones. If you have a relative living with dementia, you may be wondering what to get them. One question we often get at this time of year is ‘what shall I buy for my mum/dad who is living with dementia?’
The most important thing to remember is that although they are living with dementia, they are still them. So, if your loved one always liked a lovely new pair of slippers, it is likely that this will still bring them joy. A good place to start is to look at their life story for things that they used to like or enjoy doing and see if this can be adapted to meet their abilities. If they were an avid gardener, maybe they can have the joy of gardening indoors with a small windowsill herb garden? Dementia affects people in different ways and can change a person’s likes and dislikes. So, next time you see them, talk to them about what they like doing now.
If they enjoy painting or a good puzzle, these can also make great gifts. Although if they are living in a care home, it is important to find out if they can be supported with these activities by their care team before buying. People living with dementia may not be able to manage the type of puzzles that they used to, so choose simpler 16, 20 or 32-piece puzzles. There are puzzles designed for people living with dementia on the market and can be found easily online. Companies such as Active Minds and S&H Activities and Mind Start, amongst others, produce gifts and activities especially tailored for people living with dementia.
Dementia is the umbrella term for a number of neurological conditions. Symptoms vary depending on the type of dementia and the progression of the disease. Typical symptoms include difficulties with short-term memory, poor organisational and planning skills, confusion and impaired communication skills, understanding and judgement. Despite these difficulties, people living with dementia can still retain many strengths and abilities.
While short-term memory might be a challenge for your loved one, they are likely to remember the past. They might enjoy leafing through a photo album containing pictures from their past as well as more recent ones. Put the photos in time order to help with recognition. These photo albums can become a great reminiscence activity as well as a good family bonding activity. Encourage your loved one to talk through the pictures, you may even learn something about them you never knew.
As well as pictures, music is a wonderful way to bring enjoyment to someone living with dementia. Find out what music they used to listen to, maybe Elvis was their favourite artist. Or bring back the music form their youth with a compilation album from the 1950’s. These can be found easily on places such as Amazon. Likewise, a good old-fashioned film can also make a good gift or maybe even a copy of a newspaper from their youth?
Finally, sensory items are a wonderful gift idea for someone living with dementia, especially those in the later stages. This could be a lovely tactile cushion for their bed, a twiddle muff or even a lovable soft bear.
Whatever the gift you buy, your loved one will value your companionship most of all. Have a wonderful Christmas with them and enjoy these special times.
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