When it’s time to shop, finding the right holiday gift for a senior with Alzheimer’s is sometimes challenging. It’s important to find a gift that they appreciate, one that is meaningful and one that isn’t too complicated to use.
While providing in-home care for seniors across Los Angeles, the Salus team is often asked for Christmas gift ideas from families who are coping with Alzheimer’s disease. As the holiday season nears, here are some of our top picks.
The Gift of Music
Music has a remarkable effect on seniors with Alzheimer’s, calming them, bringing back past memories and inciting important emotions. A gift of music might include a copy of your loved one’s favorite Christmas record and a simple record player, a video recording of a grandchild playing piano at a holiday recital that the senior can’t attend, or simply a little time spent with your loved one singing a favorite Christmas carol or other holiday tune.
Puzzles and Games
Puzzles and games can help to engage the mind, stimulate the senses and potentially, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. They’re also wonderful to with your loved one, at a holiday gathering or during some one-on-one time at Christmas. When picking a game, make sure that your selection isn’t too complicated. While Monopoly might be more than your loved one can manage, checkers, large print word finds, or 24-48 piece wooden puzzles will offer them a challenge without the frustration.
Sometimes Alzheimer’s disease causes the appetite to diminish, making it difficult for the senior to maintain a healthy weight. Having a stash of favorite treats on hand can help. If the treat that mom or dad loves the best is only available during the holidays, stock up so that there’s enough to last throughout the year.
Sometimes the best holiday gifts are the practical gifts. A supportive pair of shoes is essential if your loved one enjoys walking and is trying to maintain independence while ambulating throughout the house. However, shoes with laces feel complicated for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease, and untied shoes increase the risk for trips and falls. This Christmas, consider a pair of shoes with non-slip soles and without laces or with Velcro straps instead.
A Large Whiteboard
Leaving notes helps your loved one to remember to take their medications or eat, or provides easy to find information for professional caregivers or other family members. To help, consider purchasing a large white board to hang in the room where your loved one spends most of their time. Reserve this space for short notes and avoid cluttering it with too many decorative features or holiday doodles. The simplicity makes it easier for your loved one to process the information and avoid feeling confused. This useful gift improves the way you communicate. It provides a place to leave important or thoughtful notes, helping your loved one to retain information that is meaningful to them.
Additional Gift Giving Considerations
When purchasing gifts for your loved one this holiday, take into consideration their likes, dislikes and preferences. Also consider the stage of Alzheimer’s that they are in. A person in the earlier stage of this disease might find puzzles and games enjoyable, but in the later stage, your loved one might get more use out of a cozy blanket, cream for a comforting massage, or a bouquet of flowers to help brighten up their room.
As a final thought, remember that the most meaningful gift for a senior with Alzheimer’s that you can give this holiday season is your time. Spend an hour reading a book to mom or dad, enjoy a cup of tea with them, or simply sit and reminisce for awhile. While Alzheimer’s might slow their response, it won’t change the positive ways in which your simple presence can impact them.
If you’re struggling to cope with the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease this holiday season, Salus Homecare of Los Angeles is here to help. Our professional caregivers provide respite support, sensory stimulation for your loved one, and a safe and comfortable home environment. Contact us anytime. We’re here to help.