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Gifts for Those with Middle to Late 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.

Perhaps your loved one is in the middle to late stages of Alzheimer’s. If you’re wondering what kind of holiday or other special gift might be beneficial to them, consider these:
  • Visitors Journal
    Purchase an attractive journal for your loved one. Visitors can write a little note about their visit, as well as the date and time they visited. This can help remind the person that you were there, and it keeps track of visitors for your information. People often may feel that no one visits them, but a journal can help balance that feeling with real evidence of those visits. In the later stages, this journal also serves as a communication device from one visitor to the next, allowing them to share with each other how their loved one is doing and something interesting about their visit.

  • Doll or Stuffed Animal
    For your aunt who always had a pet cat or your grandmother who adored babies, choose a snuggly stuffed animal or a baby doll. The feel of the fur in her hands will comfort her, and the weight of the baby doll will be a familiar feeling that may provide her with a sense of that motherhood role.

  • Comfy Clothes
    Purchase a couple of items of clothing that are comfortable and easy to put on or change. And remember, in your quest for comfort, don’t neglect to consider the style or color that your loved one prefers. Give him the dignity of wearing something that he would choose if he could, as well as something that is easy for you or other caregivers to help put on or take off.

  • Slippers
    Often the feet of someone with advanced Alzheimer’s or another dementia can get cold, so a nice pair of slippers is a thoughtful gift. Make sure, however, that the slippers have good grips on the bottom for traction if your loved one will be walking around in them.

  • Lap Robes
    If your mother is in a wheelchair most of the time, you may want to get a lap robe for her. A lap robe is a comfortable piece of material that wraps around the legs. While you could use a blanket, the lap robe usually comes in the right size and shape so that it doesn’t drag on the floor or get caught in the wheels of the chair. I’ve seen lap robes available online and ones knitted with love for a family member or friend.

  • Manicure
    For the woman who always enjoyed having her nails done, hire someone to give her a manicure or do it yourself if you’re able. In the late stages, she will likely not be able to express her feelings, and it may seem like she’s unaware of what’s happening. However, besides making her nails look nice, a manicure provides the benefit of human touch and hand massage. That gentle touch communicates to her that she is loved and cared for.

  • Certified Massage Therapist Appointment
    Consider hiring someone to come in and provide a gentle, professional massage. If your loved one is an older adult, ensure that the therapist has experience working with this population. Also, it's important to know your loved one’s feelings about massage. If, for example, they’re unable to get up and move about on their own, would they even appreciate a massage? Do they like touch or would that make them uncomfortable? Massage has been shown to be useful for pain control and anxiety, so you may want to consider providing one for your loved one if you can.

Sources:

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

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