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Gifts for Dementia Patients and Their Caregivers

Happy ho-ho-holidays! Ready or not, the season is upon us. The season to be busy, that is. For many of us, that means there will be visits with family and friends, holiday parties to attend, traditions to celebrate, and gifts to buy and/or make. But what do you buy for someone who has dementia or other cognitive loss? What gifts might a caregiver appreciate most?

For someone who has memory loss or other cognitive impairment, it's necessary to tailor gifts to the person's level of cognitive function. Items that help a person with everyday tasks make wonderful gifts, and so do those designed to provide sensory stimulation. Here are some ideas to help make your shopping a little easier this year.

• Special clothing - such as new shoes with Velcro fasteners, pull over or zip-front shirts and sweaters

• Special forks and spoons designed for easier grip

• Special yearly calendars with photos of loved ones and favorite places

• Clocks with large faces and buttons

• Photo phones that are designed specifically for seniors with memory loss

• Documentary dvds that target specific eras

• Activities that inspire reminiscing - such as cds with oldies tunes, family photo albums and scrapbooks, genealogy books, talking photo albums or frames, and games like Shake Loose a Memory

• Puzzles and activity books

• Aromatherapy oils and sachets which can be used therapeutically in a variety of ways

• Nature videos or other videos that provide visual and auditory stimulation

• Dolls or stuffed animals

For caregivers, the best gifts are those that provide the caregiver with extra time. Even something as simple as a homemade coupon book for meal preparation, yard maintenance, snow shoveling, or running a few easy errands, can give a caregiver a few precious hours of down-time. Gifts that pamper are also thoughtful - such as gift certificates for a manicure or a massage, for the movies, or a quiet dinner out. Books and dvds make great gifts, including those that are specific to caregiving, those that provide support and encouragement, and even those that have nothing to do with caregiving, which can provide a sweet, albeit temporary, diversion. Finally, caregivers often wish to create a record of their loved one's life - a small video recorder or journal to in which to write memories may be a well-appreciated gesture.

Wishing you a season of peace,

Nancy C. Nawrocki, Lisa H. Beatty, and the entire staff of the Nawrocki Center for Elder Law, Special Needs & Disability Planning, PLLC

Thanks to and the Alzheimers Association for the information contained within this blog post.


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