10 Holiday Gift Ideas for People with Dementia

Resources for Families

Struggling to find the perfect holiday gift for the senior who has everything?

It’s even harder when you’re shopping for an aging loved one who has dementia.

“I know from my family’s personal experience that caring for someone with dementia can be challenging – especially as the disease progresses,” said Sierra Goetz, co-founder and operations director at Tudor Oaks Home Care’s partner, the HomeCare Advocacy Network (HCAN). “We were always on the lookout for tools, technologies and devices that could improve memory, help with communication and ease anxiety.”

Whether mild or advanced,  if your loved one has dementia, here are 10 products that can help make their everyday lives easier.

Weighted blankets or lap pads. Weighted or sensory blankets or lap pads can reduce anxiety, calm nerves, provide comfort and promote deep sleep. The pressure can be especially helpful for those who experience restlessness or anxiety.

Weighted stuffed animals. Also known as sensory stuffed animals, these can provide a sense of comfort and grounding for people with dementia. People who can no longer have pets may feel especially comforted by a stuffed animal that looks like a former pet.

Calming scents. Scented candles, diffusers or essential oils an be used to create a calming, stress-free environment. Lavender and chamomile are very calming scents – just be sure that they’re not overpowering.

Fidget toys. They keep hands and minds busy in safe, soothing ways. These types of toys are especially helpful for someone who’s anxious, pulls at their clothes, wrings their hands or picks at their skin.

Oversized digital clock. A simple, easy-to-read clock with programmable reminders can be very helpful for those with dementia. It’s a good way to prompt them with standard, daily routines, such as taking medications.

Jumbo print wall calendar. A calendar that’s easy to read and understand can help people with dementia keep track of time.

Universal big button TV remote. With only a few large, back-lit buttons, this remote can replace most standard TV controllers – which may be confusing to loved ones who have dementia.

Sound reduction devices. Noisy environments like stores or restaurants can cause sensory overload for someone with dementia. Earplugs or noise cancelling headphones will help muffle sounds, so they can stay calm and enjoy and outing.

Massage tools. Handheld massagers or massage pillows can do more than soothe sore muscles and improve circulation.They can also provide a sense of relaxation and comfort for those with dementia – especially those who experience restlessness or have difficulty sleeping.

Activity books. Coloring books or puzzle books promote cognitive stimulation and reduce boredom. Caregivers, friends and family members can also use the books to encourage engagement and social interaction.

“It’s important to remember that every individual with dementia is unique – what works for one may not work for all,” Goetz said. “Be selective. Look for products that will meet your loved one’s unique needs, so that you can create a supportive and nurturing environment – one that will improve everyone’s quality of life.”