We understand that when communication gets hard, it can be difficult to know how to reach out and make a connection.
How does one choose a gift that will resonate, give pleasure or be useful for a person living with dementia? The usual suspects – scarf, slippers, sweater never go amiss! Every person is an individual and will likely enjoy the things they always have, however, there are now an amazing array of products that could be a really useful gift for your parent, spouse or friend with dementia and can really help to make the day a success. Here are a few things to consider …
Inspire conversation – it can be a good idea to find a gift that will help to include the individual in the family gathering.
- There are games, such as ‘Call to Mind’ that will spark positive memories and get all generations involved.
- Photo-memory books are a great idea and something that can be shared by everyone in the room. While the person may not necessarily be able to correctly identify familiar faces, pictures from times gone by it can inspire very vivid memories to be shared.
Engaging in this type of activity may improve the mood of the individual, encourage positive feelings of self-identity and allow you to learn something about them that you did not know before. These can be particularly helpful for children to engage with grandparents.
Active gifts – playing games and doing activities can be mentally stimulating and can alleviate restlessness and boredom.
- Jigsaws can be a great gift and there are many suitable ones on the market. It is also a good way of spending some quiet time with the person on Christmas Day. Just a word of caution though, if your loved one has never done jigsaws before it may be too much to expect them to engage with this activity, and if you see someone getting frustrated with it then its time to leave it and do something different!
Comforting products – it’s important that the day is calm and relaxing for everyone. People with dementia can find great comfort in repetitive sensory stimulation and this may help reduce stress and agitation. Gifts ideas include:
- Twiddle Muffs, which have a large range of tactile materials.
- Aroma balls, coloured and scented balls that fit into the palm of the hand, which are also good for hand excercises.
- Many people find dolls comforting too, and Doll Therapy is well recognised as a valuable therapeutic intervention for some people.
Useful items – there are loads of really useful items which help to give peace of mind, for both the family carer and the person with dementia. For example:
- Calendar clocks help people who have difficulty with visual perception and interpretation.
- Special mobile phones are available to make it easier to call the people who matter and are less likely to receive cold callers.
The content in this blog was kindly reviewed by Senior Admiral Nurse Ian Weatherhead