With the holiday season upon us, it can be difficult to buy a gift for a loved one living with Dementia…their likes, wants and needs may be different to those of a few years ago.

We have put together a few ideas that are always a winner

Box of Memories

Memory Boxes can be used to introduce Reminiscence Therapy and can be done by family, loved one or carers of those living with Dementia.⠀

To make a memory box, or at least make a start (these things can always be a work in progress!), why not try the following:⠀

🎁start by getting a good sturdy box or perhaps even a suitcase from the time period that you are trying to invoke memories of;⠀

🎁decorating both the interior and exterior – you could use wallpaper, fabric, photographs, film posters or anything else from that time period;⠀

🎁add items that are sentimental to the individual from that period – photographs, objects from their job at that time, favourite clothing or collectables etc;⠀

🎁add items that were popular in that era – games, household items, clothing, movie posters, songs, films etc;⠀

🎁you could also try spraying scents (perfumes/deodorants/aftershaves) from the period on the box or on clothing to invoke the individual’s sense of smell;⠀

🎁try adding games or activities from that time period for the individual to play with or to explain how they are played;⠀

🎁you may even want to add sweets or food from that period if you are able to find any.⠀

Then for the FUN, let the individual have a good rummage through the box, picking out items and chatting through their memories and what each item means to them, any stories they have and memories that they recall.

Memory / Photo Books

Much like a memory box this can introduce Reminiscence Therapy and can be something put together with a loved one with Dementia or for them as a gift.

The book can act as a memory prompt but also be filled with amazing memories that you can sit and go through, reminisce on and share stories.

We know that those with Dementia often lose their most recent memories first and so a collection of photos and memories from throughout their lifetime will help to encourage stories from them and that you can remind them of for more recent events.

Twiddle Muff / Fidget Blanket

Twiddle Muffs and/or fidget blankets provide sensory stimulation for people living with dementia.⠀

Twiddle Muffs often have items attached to them (ribbons, beads, fabrics) to keep hands busy and active. ⠀

Those living with Dementia often have restless hands and it is useful to have something to keep their hands busy; a Twiddle Muff is great for providing sensory, visual and tactile stimulation.⠀

Family Activity / Experience

Family activities are great at any age but an activity or experience that can involve all of your loved ones, across generations, and build memories for younger generations, whilst bringing joy to a loved one with Dementia can be priceless.

The activity doesn’t have to be expensive and will very much depend on the age, ability and mobility of your loved ones (across the whole family!) but some ideas you may want to try are:

💡Golf / Crazy Golf

💡Family Photo Shoot

💡Afternoon Tea / Picnic

💡Film Day / Cinema

💡Local Walk

💡Baking / Cooking Day

💡Outdoor Games (especially when the weather is nice!)

Art Therapy Sessions

Art therapy uses drawing, painting, collage, coloring, or sculpting to help individuals to express themselves artistically then look at the psychological and emotional undertones in their art.⠀

Some of the benefits of Art Therapy include:⠀

🎨Relieves and Reduces Stress⠀

🎨Encourages Brain Activity⠀

🎨Encourages Creative Thinking⠀

🎨Increase Self-Esteem and Confidence⠀

Music Therapy Session

Music can be enjoyed even when an individual can no longer speak or communicate with words. We listen and respond to music from a young age, before developing words and language and this continues even after our verbal abilities deteriorate.⠀

Music may inspire powerful memories and emotions and can be used to improve and change an individual’s mood, encourage engagement and interaction and could help to reduce social isolation.⠀

Music may also encourage physical activity, such as dancing and movement with the music.⠀

For a wonderful tool and resource to help get you and your loved one singing, check out our friends Bridgetown Music Therapy

Some more practical and useful gifts for around the home include:

Large Print Calendar / Clock

Calendars and clocks with large print/faces are a great idea to help our loved ones keep a bit of independence whilst giving them the reminder they need as to the day, month and time.

Alexa or similar device

An Alexa (or similar) is a brilliant idea for those that still love listening to music and can communicate to enable some independence.

The device can be used to set reminders (my yourself or your loved one) and to keep track of the time as well as favourite music.

Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets can be extremely comforting for many but specifically those with Dementia as it can encourage a deeper sleep, reduce anxiety and calm nerves – all of which those with Dementia will experience.

Weighted blankets provide deep pressure therapy and evidence suggests that this can improve moods and promote calmness.

A BIG thank you to Crystal for putting together the following wish list for us from her own perspective:

Apple Watch Series 4 with Cellular & GPS – shows the exact location of the watch and has health apps to monitor health.

Leg warmers – We are very sensitive to temperature and it’s important to keep our legs warm indoors and outdoors.

Silk or satin pillow – When I have trouble sleeping I use my soft pillow and it helps me fall asleep. Also, it remains cool during hot summers.

Heating blanket – I would have to say this is the most comforting gift to keep my circulation normal, helps me fall asleep and keeps me warm during cold months. Plus my cat loves sleeping on it with me.

Couple of ice packs – During the summer I get terribly hot, we always use ice packs to help me with my migraines and hot flashes.

Headphones with Noise Cancelling – There is nothing better than avoiding the white noise of the outside world with noise cancelling headphones or ear buds. The actual device cancels all the hectic busyness of a crowd and provides silence or music to balance the hyper-sensitivity to excessive sound and debilitating high pitch noises.

Velcro shoes for indoor – I use slip on shoes with NO laces to help me walk indoors. It helps avoid falls, stubbing my toes, or stepping on uneven surfaces. Although I can’t stop all the falls, I know my feet crave the protection now.

Diabetic Socks – I love these socks because they are easy to put on and doesn’t impact my circulation at all.

Ear muffs – I get ear infections, inflammation and pain in my ears, so it’s great to have ear mugs on to keep my ears warm or cover from wind.

Big soft towel – I am extremely sensitive to fabrics and materials, therefore I use to big green towels that don’t itch me when I’m wet.

Electric toothbrush – This will keep my teeth clean with the least amount of effort.

Castile Soap – I use this soap for showers, hair wash, bath soap, all in one, vegan soap. I don’t break out and I can use this soap for everything. It saves time for my caregiver too.

First aid kit at home and in the car – Can’t tell you how often we have used our first aid kit for cuts, falls and accidents.

Orthotics – I have foot inserts to ease foot pain and encourage me to go walk outdoors even though I’d rather not. 🙂

Last but not least, animal therapy or a therapy animal. It’s lonely in the outside world.