You might wonder what holiday gift you could possibly get for someone with memory loss — yet in some ways, they’re easier to buy for than seniors who already own everything they need!
Here are 10 inspired ideas to make your loved one’s eyes light up with joy:
- An Alarm Clock Radio Docking Station. Music is one of the best ways to connect with people who are experiencing memory loss. Because people with dementia lose their forebrain, what remains are the deeper emotional systems. “They’re still emotionally alive inside. Their heart remembers. Music is this channel that allows us to dive into our emotional beings. It exists in our DNA, but it’s put together by using all of our brain,” explains Michael Rossato-Bennett, who wrote, directed and produced the award-winning documentary, Alive Inside.
This portable “music box” with remote can be programmed for certain reminders, such as medications, walking the dog, etc. For people in the early stages of memory loss, it’s a healthy, comforting gift that has a powerfully positive effect on the brain.
- Day of the Week Clock. You may have often wished your own clock would remind you what day it is! This wall clock does. It’s easier to read than a small desk calendar, and can be mounted in the kitchen or living room — wherever your loved one spends the most time.
- TwiddleCat Therapy. This adorable plush kitty is an excellent aid for seniors with dementia who become anxious easily. Holding and stroking the cat relieves stress and boosts brain function, just as interaction with a real pet does. If your loved one is more of a dog person, there’s a TwiddlePup, too.
You might also consider an animatronic pet: a life-like cat or dog that responds as an actual animal might when petted — minus the necessity of feeding, walking, and cleanup.
- Remembrance Puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles designed for people with Alzheimer’s? You bet. These puzzles incorporate nostalgic images in large-piece jigsaws created especially for those with dementia. They encourage the use of motor skills while stimulating multiple areas of the brain simultaneously.
Another fun choice is Grandma & Grandpa’s Word Searches, word puzzles designed to help people with memory loss. Creator John Frates developed the puzzles out of deep love for his grandmother, who lived with John’s family and enjoyed word search puzzles — until the type became too tiny for her to read and the diagonal words too confusing. These puzzles are in a senior-friendly font size, without diagonal searches, and cover topics with which seniors will be familiar.
- Redware Dining Set. Red is a bright, stimulating color, and in Alzheimer’s patients, the color red increases food and drink intake significantly. A Boston University study suggests that the weight loss almost 40 percent of Alzheimer’s patients experience is due in part to deficits in visual capacity: their inability to distinguish color contrasts. When food and beverages were served in high contrast tableware, such as bright red, food intake increased by 24 percent and liquid intake by 84 percent — a major improvement. The human eye has more retina receptors for red than any other color.
This lovely, BPA-free plastic ware is functional, durable, attractive, and will whet your loved one’s appetite. What could be better?
- One Button Retro RadioDementia radio exists in this one-button AM/FM analog radio reminiscent of the 1940s and ’50s. A caregiver or family member removes the front panel, selects the preferred station on either AM or FM, sets the volume to the desired amplification, and removes the control knobs to avoid tampering, storing them in the power compartment in the rear of the radio.
Once you complete the initial set up, the user simply pushes the button down to turn the radio on and pushes the same button down to turn the radio off. No more fiddling with all those confusing buttons and dials.
- Color Me Happy. The Happy Coloring Easy Flowers Coloring Book for Adults will bring a lot of artistic joy to adults with dementia — as well as to other family members and friends who are captivated by coloring books, a childhood pastime we never really outgrow. The images are challenging yet easy to color, and will provide a relaxing activity for people with varying degrees of memory loss.
- Luxury Throw Blanket. Just like coloring books, we still love our blankies as adults, too. This cozy, hypoallergenic, reversible blanket is ultra soft and comes in 26 varieties of color and composition, including faux fur, shag, and velvet. It’s machine washable and not too warm so your loved one won’t get overheated — and the various fabrics offer the sensory stimulation so important for those with memory loss.
Your loved one can snuggle in their blanket on the couch while listening to their one button radio, coloring with you, or playing with their animatronic pet.
- Wood Hanging Photo Frame. This hanging picture frame will remind your loved one of all the people who love him or her. The vertical style allows the gift recipient to focus on one frame image at a time, which helps prevent the confusion common to those with memory loss. You can fill the frames with pictures of your loved one’s immediate family, closest friends, or beloved pets, and continually point out who each person is. When these folks come to visit, your loved one may associate them with the person whose picture is on their wall!
- Spiky Massage Ball. Sometimes the simplest gifts are the best-loved — remember how, as a child, you would often play with the wrapping paper or ribbon as much as any of those toys you received? The Pro-Tec Massage Ball falls into this category. It can provide a deep tissue massage for backs, shoulders, calves — and is especially useful for plantar fasciitis symptoms. Try rolling it under your loved one’s feet, and watch them enjoy the sensation. It’s fun to squeeze, and the spiky effect increases circulation.
Happy holidays from all of us at Kensington Place, where your loved one’s happiness is the greatest gift of all. Welcome home!