Holiday Gifting for those Living with Alzheimer’s and their Caregivers

A Texas holiday tradition is the Nieman-Marcus fantasy gift. Past items have
included a yacht and matching his and hers Rolls Royce Coupes. This year’s big item is a James Bond Aston-Martin DBS Superleggera, designed by 007
agent/actor Daniel Craig. The price is $700,007. Naturally, there had to be a 007 in the price somewhere; I think I have the seven dollars in my pocket if someone else has the 700 thousand.

Anyone? Anyone? All right, since there are no takers out there to put me in the driver’s seat, we’ll move on to the topic of this week’s column – gifts for those living with Alzheimer’s and for their caregivers.

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-sized diary or notebook
  • Erasable white boards for key rooms in the house
  • 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
  • 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 CD’s or CD with compilation of favorite tunes
  • A DVD collection of favorite movies or subscription to a streaming service
  • Activities such as scrap-booking 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. Get comfortable, easy to remove, easily washable clothes such as:

  • Sweat suits
  • Knits
  • Large banded socks
  • Shoes with Velcro ties
  • Wrinkle free nightgowns, nightshirts and robes

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.

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.

Gifts for caregivers at any time

  • A gift for yourself. Arrange for respite care so you can enjoy a movie or lunch with a friend.
  • 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 such as

  • “The 36-Hour Day” by N.L.Mace and P.V. Rabins
  • “The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care” by V. Bell, D. Troxel
  • “Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Guide and Sourcebook,” by H. Gruetzner
  • “Coach Broyles’ Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers” by Frank Broyles.

Digital Video Recorder (DVR).

Purchase a DVR and years’ worth of a downloading service so the caregiver can record favorite shows or sports programs he or she may not be able watch in real time due to care responsibilities.

With a little forethought, holiday gift giving traditions can continue to be
rewarding. If you have questions, call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900 for more information.