Alzheimer's / Dementia

12/18/2023 | By Terri L. Jones

Purchasing meaningful presents can be a challenge with recipients at all stages of life. When a friend or loved one is experiencing the results of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, the choices become even more challenging. These 10 gifts for people with dementia can help you find something that is meaningful, bringing smiles to giver and recipient.

Because my father has vascular dementia, he is unable to enjoy most of the activities he used to, like fishing and hunting and working in his yard. Therefore, finding a good gift for him can be daunting. So, when he contentedly strummed one of my husband’s guitars while visiting us the other day, we decided that maybe a guitar should be under the tree for him this year, as music has been proven to reduce stress and improve mood for people with dementia.

According to Tyler MacEachran, executive director and vice president of development of the Alzheimer’s Caregivers Network, “You want gifts that are enjoyable for the person, appropriate for their abilities, provide social interaction, and also give the caregiver a bit of a respite in terms of thinking of activities for their loved one to do.” While my dad will probably never play a song, a guitar checked all of these boxes!

Ideas for giving gifts to people with dementia:

1. Reminder clock (early stage)

Most people with dementia lose track of the time as well as the day of the week and the date. Keep this clock in a location where your loved one can see it so that they will remain aware and oriented. Pair the clock with a Day Hub so that your mom or dad can be reminded of certain tasks throughout the day too!

2. Nature Coloring Book (early stage)

If your parent is a nature lover, this coloring book, with easy-to-color pictures and interesting facts to spark conversation, will not only stimulate their creativity but can also soothe them in the event that they’re agitated. While many coloring books can fill the bill, coloring books designed specifically for those with dementia, including for later stages of dementia, may be even more suitable.

3. All About Us Board Game (early stage)

This fun board game is a great way to unlock memories and spark conversations with a loved one with dementia. As players move around the board, they answer questions about the various decades of their lives, ranging from their best school memory in childhood to their most important value in their 70s. When you play this game, you’ll not only learn about your loved one with dementia but you can also learn about the whole family!

4. Famous Faces Flip Book (early to middle stage)

This flip book, featuring famous people, will give your loved ones hours of fun. Even if they can’t remember the people’s names, they’ll probably enjoy flipping through the faces. The creator of this game offers a wide range of other “dementia activity” gifts too, including classic car and famous places flip books.

5. Memory Book (middle stage)

adult children celebrating their father's 70th birthday, giving him a cake and presents. Image by Igor Mojzes. Article on gifts for people with dementia

For Father’s Day last year, I made a scrapbook for my dad with pictures of me, my sister, and my father through the years. Experts recommend also adding captions like “Our favorite part of the vacation was always the motel swimming pool” or “Our dog, Ginger, liked to bark at men in hats” to spark memories and stories. It’s easy: all you have to do is buy the scrapbook and add your photos and short captions. Your mom or dad, aunt or uncle will love it!

6. Marble Maze (middle stage)

A marble maze challenges your loved one’s dexterity and coordination, while offering them a fun way to relax. When they reach the end, they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, which can be so valuable in the midst of dementia!

7. Puzzle (middle stage)

With only 13 pieces, the Orient Express puzzle will engage not only train lovers but anyone in the middle stages of dementia and inspires interaction as they’re putting it together. The puzzle is designed so that it can be assembled right in the box.

8. Ball Art (middle stage)

The 20 multi-color, interconnected wooden balls in this fidget toy can be turned and twisted into many different shapes and configurations. As your parent comes up with new creations, they’re challenging their brain and improving their hand dexterity.

9. Adaptive Clothing (middle to late stage)

Getting dressed can be a challenge for people with dementia, as they may have forgotten how buttons and zippers work or how to pull clothing over their heads. Adaptive clothing, using Velcro, open backs and elastic waists, can help your parents continue to dress themselves or at least make it easier for caregivers to assist them.

10. Fidget Pillow (middle to late stage)

As your loved one continuously flips this fidget pillow, it opens like a flower to new colors and textures to help relieve their anxiety and agitation. The varied fabrics and textures also will provide sensory stimulation.

Curated product boxes for people with dementia, founded by two women whose mothers had dementia, offers activity boxes curated for people with early-stage Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Each box includes approximately 10 different activities, selected in consultation with professionals, aging services providers, family, and friends.

Activities include arts, crafts, and music, designed to stimulate dexterity and logic, engage the senses and stimulate the brain. Activities come with instructions and memory prompts. Boxes change seasonally.

In addition to individual activity boxes, Always Home Connected offers boxes for group settings, family engagement, and travel and outings. The online store also offers sensory fidget blankets, stress balls, memory books, and other individual items.

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Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones