Our list of gifts for a happy and inclusive Christmas for people with dementia

December 17, 2019

Our Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline has put forward its list of gift suggestions for families with the condition to enjoy this Christmas, and all year round.

The Helpline, the only nurse-led helpline for people facing dementia in the UK, regularly takes calls from families who find the Christmas period challenging. This can be the result of families not knowing how best to include or engage a relative with dementia and who are perhaps looking for gift suggestions to help with this. Suggestions of gifts is one example of the many practical solutions which Admiral Nurses offer to help families face dementia.

Our list of Christmas gift suggestions is focussed around items which have music, interactivity, aromatherapy and identity at their heart:

Twiddlemuffs

These are usually made from wool and are attached with various items, such as bobbles, which people can play with. If a person with dementia becomes agitated or is sat there doing things with their fingers, twiddlemuffs can be a great way to ease stress and give the person something to focus on. They are easy to make and you can also knit things inside the fabric for added interactivity.

‘Reminescents’ box

Reminiscence is all about evoking memory and emotion and the use of scents and aromas can be a way to make this happen. These boxes can be homemade and filled with scents which are really individual for the person with dementia; lavender if they like gardening or cocoa if they like cooking and chocolate for example. You can fill it or change it as time goes on to make it more interesting. Either way, they can be a great way to start conversations and help individuals connect with one another. Young people can get involved too and help to guess the scents with their relative.

ID jewellery

This type of jewellery is personalised, helping to maintain a person with dementia’s identity and wellbeing. There are many types of this jewellery available on the market, with a number of styles to suit various tastes, such as Pandora style bracelets or even jewellery with a charm on it.  It can also include a person’s name, details of their condition for medical professionals as well as contact details for a family member or close friend in case of an emergency.

Music

Everyone has different types of music which they enjoy and this does not change when someone develops dementia. Some music can evoke some really positive memories so it can always help to gift someone a song, an album of an artist or soundtrack which they have enjoyed previously. You can also look out for simple instruments like a shaker, bells or a tambourine to create some of your own music.

Paulette Winchester-Joseph, Deputy Lead for the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline, said:

The Christmas period may be quite an isolating time for people with dementia so any gifts which show love and support for the person will go a long way.

As a diagnosis of dementia is as individual as the person who receives it, the above gifts should be seen as suggestions. You may well have to make other considerations before buying gifts for a relative or close friend with the condition, particularly as you know the person best. These can include likes and dislikes of the person diagnosed as well as what stage of the condition they’re at and what might allow them to be supported in their day-to-day life.

For any additional advice on suitable gifts to buy for someone with dementia or for general advice around Christmas time, please contact the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline on 0800 888 6678 or email helpline@dementiauk.org.

The Helpline is open 9am-9pm weekdays and 9am-5pm on weekends. However it is closed on bank holidays, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.