Holiday gift ideas for people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers
Holidays can be difficult for family, friends as well as the person living with dementia. Often as family and friends gather to celebrate, symptoms of dementia become clear.
Memory loss may be more evident, anxiety sometimes increases in a crowd where there's lots of noise and conversation, and unfamiliar surroundings may reveal challenges that don't exist at home.
The Alzheimer's Association offers a caregiver holiday guide that shows how, with careful planning, family celebrations can be a meaningful part of the holidays while ensuring safety, comfort and enjoyment for everyone.
Its purpose is to help alleviate some of the stress associated with the additional activities and changes in routine at this time of year.
If you have a caregiver or a person with Alzheimer's on your gift-giving list, we've got some suggestions to make your shopping a bit easier.
Gifts for people with Alzheimer's -- In the early stages
Items to help remember things: magnetic reminder refrigerator pads; Post-it notes; baskets or trays that can be labeled within cabinets or drawers; a small pocket-size diary or notebook; erasable whiteboards for key rooms in the house; or a memorable calendar featuring family photos -- write special family occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.
Items to help with everyday tasks: a memory phone that can store up to eight pictures with the names and contact information of family and friends automatic medication dispenser that can help the person living with Alzheimer's remember to take medicine; nightlights that come on automatically when it gets dark; or a clock with the date and time in large type.
Items to help keep the person engaged: an outing to a movie, play or concert, sporting event, museum or possibly an organized holiday shopping trip with friends and family; favorite musical CDs or CD with a compilation of favorite tunes; VHS/DVD collection of favorite movies; and activities such as scrapbooking or other craft projects.
Gifts for people with Alzheimer's -- In the middle-to-late stages:
sensory stimulation gifts-stimulating the five senses may bring back pleasant memories; give gifts such as scented lotions, a fluffy bathrobe in a favorite color, a soft blanket or afghan to keep warm, clothes which comfortable, easy to remove, easily washable clothes such as sweatsuits, knits, large banded socks, shoes with Velcro ties, wrinkle-free nightgowns, nightshirts robes and 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. Buy favorite CDs or burn a CD full of musical favorites
Also, framed photographs or a photo collage. Copy photos of family members and friends at photo centers, insert the names of the people in the photo and put in frames or in a photo album created specifically for that person.
Or enroll the person in MedicAlert + Safe Return, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for wandering and medical emergencies.
Gifts for caregivers:
The gift of time. Cost-effective and truly meaningful gifts are self-made coupons for cleaning the house, cooking a meal, mowing the lawn, shoveling the driveway, and giving time off so a caregiver can do something to meet their needs; gift cards and certificates.
Give gift certificates for restaurants, laundry/dry cleaning services, lawn care services, computer/technology support, maid services, and personal pampering services such as massages and pedicures; books.
In addition to giving novels on the caregiver's "must read" list, there are also a number of books on caregiving; or purchase a DVR so the caregiver can record favorite shows or sports programs that he or she may not be able to watch in real time due to care responsibilities.
The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's research, care and support.
Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.
The Alzheimer's Association Illinois Chapter covers an 87-county area with offices in Chicago, Joliet, Rockford, Springfield, Bloomington, Peoria, Quincy and Carbondale.
Since 1980, the chapter has provided reliable information and care consultation; created supportive services for families; increased funding for dementia research; and influenced public policy changes. The Illinois Chapter serves more than half a million Illinois residents affected by Alzheimer's disease, including more than 220,000 Illinois residents living with the disease.
For more information, visit www.alz.org/illinois or call the free 24-hour Helpline at (800) 272-3900.