Memory impairment can take a toll on how we interact with our friends and loved ones. During the holiday season, finding the right gift for those you love can be a complex task, especially when your loved one is memory impaired.
You can simplify gift giving with a few guidelines to help you give thoughtful gifts appropriate for their memory stage.
Consider giving gifts that include the five senses or brain stimulation since our senses work to trigger memories:
• Smell – A familiar scent can trigger the memory of a happy moment
• Sight – Photos or videos of familiar places or moments can trigger emotions from that time
• Sound – Familiar songs or voices can help a person recall a time where they enjoyed that sound
• Touch – Familiar fabrics or textures can provide a comforting feeling or inspire related memories
• Taste – The flavor of familiar fruits, vegetables, meats, spices, etc. can trigger memories linked to sharing these items.
Here’s a list the best gifts you can give to memory impaired seniors to engage their senses:
Early Stage Memory Loss Gifts
Games & Puzzles
This is a great way to help them stretch their “mental muscles” while sharing moments with friends and family. Games and puzzles combine the use of sight, touch and in some cases sounds the may evoke fond memories. Large size games have become increasingly popular time keepers that were once considered solitary tasks.
• Giant Wall Crossword and Word Search Puzzle
• Large Checker, Chess, or Tic-tac-toe Board
• Board Games
Photobooks & Scrapbooks
A photo book can be a wonderful way to share fond memories with your loved one and show how much you care. This gift can be considered equal parts therapeutic and enjoyable. In a recent article from dailycaring.com, photos are suggested as an excellent way to reminisce. Alzheimers.net gives the following gift ideas:
• A memorable photo album or calendar that features special family occasions and family photos.
• A memory phone that can store photos with the contact information and names of your loved one’s family and friends.
Middle Stage Memory Loss Gifts
Clocks & Virtual Assistants
With so many smart devices and virtual assistant products on the market, there is a growing segment of these items that are memory impairment friendly and more than a simple clock. According to Cheapism.com, these devices “can boost their quality of life in a number of ways.” Consider these gift ideas that may help both the gift giver and receiver:
• A clock/virtual assistant with a large date and time display
• A virtual assistant with health tracking and virtual medication reminders
• A virtual assistant connected to appliances and lighting with the ability to turn items on and off.
Late Stage Memory Loss Gifts
Sensory Stimulating Items
In severe or later stages of memory impairment, memory and cognitive skills decrease. Despite this, sensory stimulating gifts can help a person connect with the world and fill a gap where a need can no longer be communicated. Alzheimers.net suggests the following gifts:
• “A fluffy bathrobe or a soft blanket in a favorite color.”
• “Music and CD’s that feature songs from your loved one’s childhood or teenage years.”
• “A location device that can track your loved one, if they become disoriented and wander.”
The best thing to remember this holiday season is the importance of planning for gifts and gatherings that comfort anxiety, soothe agitation, and give a sense of accomplishment. Three ways to do this effectively according to the Alzheimer’s Association are:
• Focusing on gifts and gatherings that bring happiness
• Understanding your loved one’s limitations and informing your guests of those limitations
• Adjusting expectations and gift giving
Keeping these ideas in mind will help you, your friends, and loved ones enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season.
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