Thoughtful Holiday Gift Ideas for Dementia Patients

The holidays are a wonderful time to spend with family – sharing laughter, memories, and traditions. These moments can often be stressful when you’re affected by someone living with dementia, Mild Cognitive Disorder (MCD), or Alzheimer’s disease. Gift giving for a loved one suffering from these conditions can mean extra pressure during an already trying time. With this in mind, we have some ideal holiday gift ideas for dementia patients that you may find useful this season. 

What Kind of Gift Ideas for Dementia Patients Are Best?

There are many things to consider when shopping for an elderly patient with cognitive disorders. Ideally, good gift ideas for dementia patients include objects they will find simple and useful, or participating in activities they will find enjoyable.

Because most cognitive conditions are often categorized in stages of severity, you must consider that fact when selecting a gift for your loved one. A 2,500-piece puzzle would not be the ideal choice for someone with severe Alzheimer’s disease, and a life-like doll would likely not go over well with someone who has MCD. Choose gifts that are engaging, with activities they are capable of managing independently while offering the most safety for the particular stage of their illness. 

Gifts That Connect to the Past

A good place to start is to keep in mind their past careers or pastimes. If they spent much of their life as a medical professional, a stethoscope or pretend doctor’s kit would be good options. Someone who enjoyed sewing may discover their love of knitting or crochet. Anything that reminds a loved one of their past is a beautiful way for them to feel more connected to their present-day life. If they are music lovers, an instrument they used to play or a or a device that provides them an easy way to play their favorite music is a lovely idea. Nature lovers will relish a trip to a local botanical garden or gardening tools, while animal lovers will enjoy a visit to a local shelter or farm. There are also animal therapy organizations that can provide valuable animal interaction to those who suffer from a variety of illnesses and conditions. For loved ones with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, a doll or animated pet can provide plenty of enjoyment and interaction.

Games for Brain Health

Games are great gift ideas for dementia patients, too. Whether playing with family or by themselves, there are endless options for games that stimulate the mind, improve dexterity, and provide social engagement. Card games are always a hit and when you combine them with photos of loved ones, it makes for a very meaningful and thoughtful gift. Puzzles are also a great way to provide someone you love with a sense of accomplishment. Along with photo puzzles of loved ones, jigsaws come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and types, to keep the mind stimulated. Word search books are great for solo play and classic games like chess, checkers, Snakes and Ladders, and dominoes are great options for group play, fostering emotional connections and social interaction.

Comforting Gift Ideas for Dementia Patients

Some people who suffer from dementia may experience anxiety through fidgety hands. Sensory therapy toys are an effective way to keep hands in motion, calm nerves, and provide self-soothing. When choosing fidget toys, play it safe. Avoid small items that can be choking hazards, as some advanced dementia patients tend to place their hands in their mouths. 

For loved ones that suffer from anxiety, weighted blankets and diffusers are great and useful gifts. The blankets are proven to reduce anxiety for restless sleepers, while aromatherapy diffusers can help calm and soothe by creating a spa-like feeling in their living space. 

Creativity to Stimulate the Mind

Art therapy is also known to benefit patients with cognitive disorders, so any gift that involves drawing, painting, or sculpting is a wonderful way to engage the mind and offer a sense of expression. Art lovers will enjoy watercolors or a mess-free artboard, while sculpting dough is a lovely reminder of childhood. 

Practical Gifts

Anything that helps our loved ones manage their life better is not only practical, but can be a life-saving tool for someone with cognitive issues. For everyday use, there are a few items that go in the gift “hall of fame.” A large button photo phone, talking alarm clock, simple TV remote, day clock, and pillbox dispenser are all great gift ideas for dementia patients. 

Keep It Simple and Stress-Free

When spending time with your loved one, keep things simple. Limit the gifts and keep visitors to no more than three people at a time. Those suffering from dementia often get easily overwhelmed and need a calm environment to avoid agitation. It’s also best to manage your expectations. Gift recipients may not have a big reaction when opening presents, so be flexible and move on to the next activity if you don’t get the acknowledgment you expect. Whether it’s the holiday season or just a Tuesday, the biggest gifts of all are the moments spent together and the love and affection you share with them. 

Palm Beach Neurological Center offers expert care for those suffering from dementia, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Michael Tuchman leads the team in the diagnosis, treatment, and clinical research trials of neurological disorders and diseases, along with providing empathic patient care and compassionate support. You can reach the Palm Beach Neurological Center by calling (561) 694-1010.

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