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Gifts for Those with Early to Mid-Stage Alzheimer's or Dementia

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Updated November 20, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Looking for a special and helpful gift for a loved one who has early or middle-stage Alzheimer's disease? Consider these options:
  • GPS Tracking System
    Does your loved one wander or become disoriented easily? If you want to invest in something that could help locate your loved one if he or she gets lost, consider a GPS tracking system. There are several options available, with varying costs. Most have an initial charge for the equipment and set-up and then an ongoing monthly fee for the service. You can set up a system to alert you if he or she leaves a pre-determined boundary area, as well as provide continual monitoring that you can access from your computer screen.

  • Medical Identification Bracelet
    An attractive medical identification bracelet can provide a little peace of mind for you and your loved one. Bracelets often have the option of listing the individual's name, medical conditions, contact information and more. As with the GPS tracking system, you may want to consider purchasing a bracelet if your loved one tends to wander or become restless.

  • Medication Dispenser
    Meet the new and improved pill box: the medication dispenser. If you're concerned about medication dosing and timing, this may be a great fit for your loved one. Medication dispensers come with several different options, including the ability to verbally remind the person to take her medication and then automatically dispense the correct medication at the appropriate time. You can even program some dispensers to contact a family member or friend if the medication is not taken out of the machine at the correct time.

  • Personalized DVD or CD
    Make a video or audio recording of a few family members or close friends greeting your loved one. This is especially meaningful for individuals who live far away or if the person is living in a facility. Be sure to identify yourself with your name. For example, you could say, "Hi, Aunt Mae! It's Susie Brown, your niece. I thought of you today and remembered when we used to go apple picking together. I love you and hope you're having a great day!"

  • Transfer Old Family Movies, Slides or Pictures onto DVDs
    Does your grandfather have boxes of old slides or pictures sitting around? You can record them onto a DVD to preserve them and make it easy for him to enjoy viewing. If you're not tech savvy, there are companies that will do this for a fee.

  • Old TV Shows
    Purchase DVDs of favorite television shows or movies from the past. Most people enjoy watching shows that are familiar to them. Don't choose shows that are anxiety-producing or too intense; rather, pick ones that portray some humor and good times. For the sports buff, choose funny sports bloopers or season highlights.

  • Old Music
    Many people with Alzheimer's or another dementia enjoy music from earlier times in their lives. A CD of their favorites could make their day.

    See also: Using Music in Alzheimer's Disease

  • Familiar Books
    In the same way that music from the past might bring comfort and joy to those with Alzheimer's, so might a familiar book. Try a classic book they might have read several times or a magazine that's about their profession. For example, a former nurse might enjoy paging through a magazine about the medical world. A retired mechanic might love looking at classic cars and engines.

  • Activity Board
    You can purchase an activity board for those who enjoy working with their hands. I've seen boards with locks that can open and close, others with zippers and buttons and others with smaller plastic pipes that fit together. An activity board can provide your loved one with something to do with his hands if he's restless or bored.

  • Photo Album with Names and Pictures of Family and Friends
    Put together a photo album with pictures of family and friends. Make sure you label the pictures with the name and relationship of the person, such as "Joe Friday, Nephew" or "Sarah Smith, daughter." You can also include short descriptions or captions.

Sources:

Alzheimer's Association. Holiday Gift Guide. Accessed November 08, 2011. http://www.alz.org/national/documents/topicsheet_holidays.pdf

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