Only 28 shopping days left for Christmas. While we are busy searching for the perfect new gadget for our kids and a sentimental gift for our spouse, what do we do for the parent who has dementia? As my mom’s Alzheimer’s progressed it was a challenge but we found some things she loved.
A List of Gift Ideas:
- Gather up a photo album of old family pictures. It will help the family remember the good times. It may also comfort the elderly parent with memories that they recognize. At a minimum it is great to gather the family to share stories.
- Music. My favorite medication for people with dementia. My mom loved Engelbert Humperdinck. We would play his music all day long and there were times when she would sing along. A great way to soothe the mind.
- Kids and Pets. No I am not suggesting you buy a puppy for an Alzheimer’s resident. What I am suggesting is a visit from pets or little kids. My mother would just glow when we brought her puppies or babies. The color in her face would dramatically improve. It was like instant sunshine.
- Comfort and warm clothing. Circulation decreases as we age which means we are always cold. My mom loved cashmere socks and warm faux blankets, it brought her immediate pleasure.
- Bad food. Let me explain. We are so health conscious we want to make sure that our 83 year old parent is eating healthy. Let them have a moment of joy. Eating food that may not have great health benefits but make them happy is important. My mom loved cream pies and they were easy for her to swallow. Remember dementia residents often have trouble swallowing so make sure you give them food that doesn’t make this condition worse.
- Family. The best gift you can give them is yourself. Yes I know it is hard to see your mom or grandmother in their current condition. But there is no better comfort than to have family around them reassuring them. Even a few hours makes a huge difference. You don’t have to do it Christmas Day when it is hectic. Pick a day or two before or after when you can all spend some quality time together.
Use the ideas above to provide structure and guidance for the day.