Tips and Ideas for Giving Gifts to those w/ Alzheimer's...
Keep your loved one safe and happy, and try to minimize outbursts that can add to an already stressful time of year.
Make name tags for everyone to easily recognize family members. It can be a fun project for the kids; make big letters and even decorate them.
Stick to a set schedule, (i.e., when they get up, mealtimes, taking a nap, etc.). Change to routine can very difficult for people with Alzheimer's and dementia. Allow for “down time”, and be cognizant of “sun-downing” which can happen late in the afternoon when there is an increased likelihood of agitation. Find a quiet place for your loved one to rest, perhaps a nearby room, where family members can come one or two at a time to visit with them. Celebrate earlier in the day to reduce the risk of confusion. Consider throwing a holiday lunch instead of a dinner party.
Let them take part in a few of their favorite traditions. Due to attention span and cognitive issues, people in the later stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia might be happier taking part with the holiday activities of the younger kids. Watching movies, baking cookies, coloring and children’s crafts give them an opportunity to share in holiday activities without feeling overwhelmed.
Limit the number of presents, and think “simple”. - Your loved one is not going to be impressed by how much you spend or how many presents you give them. Consider the “age” they are at – not biological, but cognitive – and select gifts accordingly.
The special treats are especially tempting to those with Alzheimer’s & dementia. Watch where you put the sweets and treats! Also, be sure they stay hydrated during this time. It’s important to keep them feeling healthy, and for any/all medications to work properly.
Surround your loved one with music. Music is a part of the holiday tradition that can elevate their mood. If your family has a tradition of caroling, include them in it. Even those with Alzheimer’s can easily recall songs they have known for years!
Take pictures and videos. Years from now, you and your family will look back upon this holiday season with warm thoughts about your loved one, and happy times you shared together. It is much easier for people with Alzheimer’s disease to remember things that happened long ago rather than things that happened yesterday, so reminisce with them!
Holiday time with Alzheimer’s does not need to be stressful. In fact, some of the moments can be very special as people take time to listen and pay special attention to your loved one. Savor those moments, and know that as long as you show patience and love, you and your loved one will enjoy this holiday as much as ever!
If the person is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, relatives and
friends might not notice any changes. But the person with dementia may
have trouble following conversation or tend to repeat him or herself.
Family can help with communication by being patient, not interrupting or
correcting, and giving the person time to finish his or her thoughts.
If the person is in the middle or late stages of Alzheimer’s, there may
be significant changes in cognitive abilities since the last time an
out-of-town friend or relative has visited. These changes can be hard to
accept. Make sure visitors understand that changes in behavior and
memory are caused by the disease and not the person.