Holiday Gifts for People With Alzheimer's Disease and Family Caregivers
According to the Alzheimer's Association, almost 15 million family members now serve as unpaid caregivers for the 5.4 million people who are living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States today. This means that most of us know someone who is touched by the disease. Chances are that this holiday season you’ll be considering gifts for parents, grandparents, relatives or friends who have been touched by the disease. The Alzheimer's Association offers these ideas to add to your shopping list.
Gifts for family caregivers
The best gifts you can give someone caring for a relative with Alzheimer's are those that relieve stress or provide a bit of respite for the caregiver.
- The gift of time: For a cost-effective and truly meaningful gift, create coupons for cleaning the house, preparing a meal, mowing the lawn or shoveling the driveway, or for providing respite time that allows the caregiver time off to focus on what they need.
- Gift certificates: Give gift certificates for restaurants and laundry/dry cleaning services, especially those that deliver; lawn care services; computer/technology support; housekeeping services; or personal pampering services, such as massages, facials and manicures/pedicures.
- Books: In addition to fiction and nonfiction books that a caregiver might enjoy, there are a number of books created to assist caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends "The 36-Hour Day" by N.L. Mace and P.V. Rabins; “The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer's Care" by V. Bell and D. Troxel; “Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Guide and Sourcebook” by H. Gruetzner; and “Coach Broyles' Playbook for Alzheimer's Caregivers" by F. Broyles.
- Digital Video Recorder (DVR): Purchase DVR/TiVo and one or more years' worth of services that will enable caregivers to record favorite shows they may not be able watch in real time but can enjoy later during downtime.
Gifts for people living with Alzheimer's
In the early stages
- Items to help remember things: Magnetic reminder notepads; Post-it notes; baskets or trays that can be labeled within cabinets or drawers; a pocket-sized diary or notebook; erasable white boards for important rooms in the house; a calendar featuring family photos and marked with special family occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries
- Items that may help with daily activities: Memory phone that can store pictures with the names and contact information of family and friends; an automatic medication dispenser that can help the person living with Alzheimer's remember to take their medicine; night lights that come on automatically when it gets dark; a clock with the date and time in large type
- Entertainment: Give DVDs of the person's favorite movies, and musical CDs or CD compilations of the person's favorite tunes. Plan an outing to a movie, play, concert, sporting event or museum, or organize a holiday outing with the person's friends and family. Arrange for activities such as scrapbooking or other craft projects that are social in nature.
Note: Giving electronics may seem like a good idea to make life easier for someone with Alzheimer's or dementia, but that isn't always the case. If you decide to give someone with the disease a new piece of electronic equipment, remember to review the operating instructions with them slowly and more than once. Make a copy of the instructions for the person and for yourself, so you can talk them through the process on the phone if needed.
In the middle to late stages
- Items that provide sensory stimulation: In the later stages of the disease, sensory stimulation may bring back pleasant memories, so gift ideas include scented lotions, a soft blanket or afghan to keep the person warm, or a fluffy bathrobe in the person's favorite color.
- Clothes: Clothing should be comfortable, easy to remove and easily washable, which might include sweatsuits, knits, large-banded socks, shoes with Velcro ties, and wrinkle-free nightgowns, nightshirts and robes.
- Music: Research shows that music has a positive impact on individuals with Alzheimer's, bringing back memories of good times, increasing stimulation and providing an opportunity for interacting with family members. Buy favorite CDs or create a CD full of musical favorites.
- Framed photographs or a photo collage: Copy photos of family members and friends, insert the names of the people in the photo, and put in frames or a photo album.
The Alzheimer's Association is the leading global voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care and support, and the largest private, nonprofit funder of Alzheimer's research. Visit the Alzheimer's Association website to find resources and support for people with Alzheimer's and family caregivers.
Caring Right at Home recently polled readers about the best way to support Alzheimer's family caregivers. Fifty-eight percent of respondents named "Offer to sit with loved one while caregiver goes out" as their top choice. Read "Caring for Alzheimer’s Caregivers" to learn more.
Right at Home, Inc. is a national organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those we serve. We fulfill that mission through a dedicated network of locally owned, franchised providers of in-home care services.