I don’t want to say that I have a lot of experience buying gifts for someone with Alzheimer’s disease because that is something nobody wants to say. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up my Grandmother was diagnosed with the disease when I was just an infant and lived with it until she passed away when I was in high school.
Then a few years ago, my own mother was also diagnosed with the disease. Nothing prepared me for this challenge. It is one thing to grow up only knowing my Grandmother as the person she was with the disease and a totally different experience to watch the amazing woman who raised me, whom I admire and love, go through it.
As the holidays roll around and thoughts seem to turn to families and traditions it is especially hard. I want to give my mom something that she will enjoy and let her know how much I love her, but in the past, I often wondered what that could be.
As the holidays and her birthday would come around I would try searching the internet for ideas. This wasn’t very helpful. It mostly turned up suggestions like crossword puzzles and special alarm clocks. I knew those types of things wouldn’t be right.
Over the last few years I have come up with some ideas that I think were the right kind of gift I wanted to give to my mother. I thought I would share these ideas for anyone who also has to choose a gift for their loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Gift Ideas For Someone With Alzheimer’s Disease
If it is at all possible give the gift of time to your loved one. Growing up with my Grandmother suffering from the disease, when my mother was diagnosed I knew where it would eventually end up. I knew that the time we have right now with her is the best time that we are going to have left. Don’t squander the time you have right now with your loved one.
A gift I chose to give was to take my mother out to dinner and to get pedicures. This would be harder now that the disease has progressed. Going to a nail salon and having to try and follow the directions would be hard for her. So instead now when I want to do something like this for her we do it at home.
I pull out the foot spa at her home and fill it up and buy her a new bottle of polish. I know that this time spent with my mom is going to be memories I cherish. I also know that she enjoys it and can feel the love I have for her through this act of service.
I live pretty far away from my parents and often feel guilty that I can’t be closer to them and more available to help out. One way I have found that I can help is to give them the gift of freezer meals when we are in town.
My mom is no longer able to prepare meals for herself and I know how much work being a full-time caregiver is for my father especially when he was still working full time. So I knew that this would be a gift that they could use.
There are tons of recipes for freezer meals online. I would choose out a handful of recipes, buy the ingredients, then prepare them and store them so when a day got crazy I knew they could have a home cooked meal.
Comfortable easy clothing
You still want your loved one to feel like they look nice, but not at the price of comfort. Choose an attractive outfit that is easy to get on and off. Something without a lot of buttons and zippers is ideal. By choosing clothing that is easy to get dressed in, your loved one can hopefully be able to dress themselves or their caregiver can help them get dressed with more ease.
Digital picture frame
We bought a digital picture frame as a gift a couple of years ago for my mother and she told me that it was one of her favorite gifts. She loves to sit and watch the picture of loved ones be displayed. Whenever we go to visit we bring our jump drive with us and update the pictures for her.
I don’t know what it is about music, but it seems to have a deep connection in one’s memory. Even when my grandmother was far enough along in the disease that she no longer knew our names or who we were but she could still play Amazing Grace on the recorder from memory. Buy your loved one a favorite CD or easy to use mp3 player and download their favorite songs on it.
Write their history
Occasionally, I watch family movies that include my grandmother before she had Alzheimer’s disease. It’s always surprising to me to see her with her memory clear and untarnished. Although I spent lots of time with her in my youth I have no memories of her that way. I have always heard stories of what she was like, but I would have loved to know her.
I think we all want to be remembered for who we are. We want the memories of our true selves to live on with those who love us. I especially want this for my own mother. I want her grandchildren to know what an amazing woman she is.
So as soon as she was diagnosed I printed a list of life history journal prompts and would call her and asks her a couple questions every few days. I typed up the answers and plan on having them bound and printed. If your loved one is too far along in the disease to answer questions you could always ask those closest to them about your loved one’s life and type up those memories.
Even when your loved one isn’t capable of doing all they used to they may still enjoy the same things. I remember my grandmother used to love strawberry shakes. Even at the end of her life, I can remember taking her through the drive through to get strawberry milkshakes, and I will always remember how much she enjoyed them.
If your loved one had a favorite snack or treat they will probably still enjoy it. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can bring the most joy.
Maybe the best gift we can give loved ones suffering from this terrible disease is to always remember who they are.
Although they may not be able to communicate how they once did they are still the same person. I will always remember my mother as a remarkable and selfless woman. No disease will ever change who she is to me.
Do you have any good gift ideas for loved ones suffering from dementia? I would love to hear them please comment and share.
This post is linked at Thrifty Thursday