Finding the right gift ideas is a challenge, Finding gifts for caregivers who needs more assistance than stuff can really make your head explode. Well, I’m here to help. Today I get personal and offer up my list of gifts for caregivers and gifts for those living with Alzheimer’s. I’ve had a lot of practice so you benefit from my experience.
Gift Ideas for Caregivers
“Just for You, a daily self-care journal” guides the writer on a journey of self-discovery while intentionally exploring the seasons of life 365 days a year. Each daily prompt encourages the writer to uncover creative self-care solutions and rediscover personal visions and desires. Ultimately this is a creative tool to boost and inspire the recipient to live their best life by focusing on integrating health and happiness into each day. This journal blends daily writing prompts with monthly ‘fun’ activity pages. Use the blank lines to capture one or multiple years of daily responses. Personalize the journal pages by adding splashes of color and creativity. Whether received as personal gift or offered to someone who needs encouragement, this journal enables a fun and positive ripple effect in just minutes each day by allowing the writer to creatively focus on wellness for the mind, body and spirit.
Assembling simple yet tasty meals that a caregiver can throw in a slow cooker and forget is heaven sent. Once they’re nearly done with the gifted meals you could make a bi-monthly date to shop and do all the prep work with them. The socialization while tackling practical matters is a two-fold gift in itself. This site has some easy suggestions. How about 20 meals in 4 hours? If you need lots of ideas, this site2 has 72 of them with corresponding shopping lists.
Maybe you’re not a cook or perhaps you want to give them something even easier than a plop & go slow cooker meal. We all like restaurant meals but sometimes it’s not easy to go to one. Bring one to them with Uber Eats. UberEats has hundreds of restaurants to choose from. When they open the app, they can scroll through the feed for inspiration or search for a particular restaurant or cuisine. When they find something they like, tap to add it to their cart.
Subscription To A Meal Delivery Service
A meal subscription service is an ideal gift for the out of town sibling to give to the person doing the caring.. Now that it’s just the two of us my husband & I use Blue Apron We’ve discovered flavors and ingredients we never would have tried otherwise. We waste a lot less food too. There are dozens of these services. My friend likes Sun Basket for the healthier options. There’s also Hello Fresh and Home Chef just to name a few of the many services.
One of the most thoughtful gifts you can give a caregiver is time away. There are many home care agencies to choose from you just have to find one that will do short term care. Visiting Angels will provide care for as little as 4 hours. I can promise you those four hours will feel like forever. If you can’t afford a service maybe you can relieve them of chores for an afternoon. Go to their home and make a nice dinner while they relax with their loved one. Just make sure you give them the much needed time for themselves that they need.
Personal Care Services
Find a local nail salon and buy a gift card. This is a gift that works for the caregiver and their loved one. I take my Mom to a local nail salon for manicures and pedicures. I don’t mind doing manicures for her but I draw the line at dealing with old lady feet. Plus, I don’t want to take the risk of cutting her skin and causing an issue, Trained professionals are a blessing for pedicures. You could also do this for hair care, massages, car cleaning, Housekeeping or Yard care – and I’m sure you can come up with even more ideas!
Self Care Themed Subscription Boxes
If you listened to the episode about Senior Delight then you’re already familiar with this specialty gift service. In researching gifts for caregivers I came across a couple more. These can be for either the caregiver or the senior.
Loved1 delivers to seniors a gift box of thoughtfully curated products that focus on healthy living, quality of life, nutrition, and fun. Then, they send the subscriber (usually, adult children of those seniors) an email detailing the items in the box and an Engagement Guide to encourage great discussions and interactions.
Uplift is another gift service, Alexa, the founder can fill a sweet little box with meaningful things that will help you build rituals for self-care and hopefully introduce you to your best self.
Amazon Gift Card
Taking a person living with Alzheimer’s out to run errands can be a real challenge. Amazon has everything and you can even set up scheduled delivery of items they use all the time. This is much better than a midnight run praying your loved one stays asleep while you get that much needed items.
Gift Ideas for those with Memory Loss
Activity books like crossword puzzles or strategy games make nice gifts. Make sure that whatever type of puzzle you get it’s enough challenge to stimulate their brain.
A family photo album that highlights a specific family member on each page. This will allow you to help them reminisce about each person. Make sure their name is prominent so there is no struggle to remember who they are.
Classic movies or TV shows that they love and probably remember every word. Watching something very familiar can be relaxing and soothing after struggling to remember normal things all day. These could be on VHS, DVD or downloaded to a streaming device depending on their level of tech acceptance.
CDs or a specifically designed Mp3 player for the cognitively challenged with all their favorite music is a great idea. Music seems to reach deep into the brain and bring out memories long buried. People with a brain disease seem to respond the most when they hear familiar music. Sometimes they sing along when they haven’t spoken in a long time. Music can be powerful.
Large piece custom photo puzzle. Have a favorite photo or portrait turned into a puzzle. Twice the enjoyment. You can get those made at Walgreens or online at Shutterfly which has lots of options to choose from.
“Images of America” books. I’ve linked some of them from my Favorites Things page, there’s a lot of them to choose from. I’m partial to the one about San Fransisco of course!
Assorted every-day greeting cards and a personalized return address stamp. This thoughtful gift will make it easy for them to stay in touch with those that aren’t living nearby. You could pair it with a calendar of family and friend birthdays and other special days in their lives. Calendars that include a photo on an important date like a birthday is especially touching.
A large display clock that shows the day, date and time. These are quite popular with seniors and there are a lot of options.
An automatic prescription dispenser. This could be a good transition from handling their medications on their own and not being able to remember to take their medications properly. Maintaining their independence as long as possible is good for everyone.
Automatic night lights or better yet the switch plates that have built in night lights from Snap. They’re attractive and don’t take up a much needed plug! We have these all over our house and we love them. You can also get them with regular plugs with USB chargers. They’re super easy to install too which the caregiver will love!
Many of the early stage gifts may also work for those in the middle stages of a brain disease. Other ideas include really soft bathrobes or throws, Grandma & Grandpa Word Searches – there’s lots of options. Make sure to check out my Favorites Things page because I’ve added a lot of great stuff. Buying through our website will also help cover some of the costs or producing this podcast.
Unfortunately when your loved one is in the later stages of a brain disease gift giving is s very fleeting thing. The best thing you can do for them is to be with them and give them experiences that you’ll remember when they’re gone. Of course, those are pretty hard to put under a Christmas tree or exchange on Hanukkah or birthdays.
Some ideas for those of us dealing with this stage are pretty simple. Some loved ones may respond well to a realistic baby doll or stuffed animal. You might recall on the episode of The Committee Cory’s grandmother had a realistic baby doll that she mothered. This is not an uncommon behavior.
Comfortable and easy to put on clothing is always good. I have an upcoming episode on Smart Adaptive Clothing which you might want to check out now. Very stylish and practical everyday items we all need. The sleeves with velcro adjustments are great for us shorties who always have coat sleeves that are too long! It’s a good idea if you’re buying them clothing to buy things that are familiar or similar to what they’re already wearing otherwise they may think the items don’t belong to them. Trust me, I’ve been there already!
Items that area adapted for better everyday living are great too. Specially designed utensils so they can more easily feed themselves or plate guards that prevent the food from getting pushed off the back of the plate make mealtime more pleasant for all involved. If your loved one has trouble drinking from a standard glass they might benefit from a specially designed cup with a lower front that requires less tipping than a standard glass. If they prefer a straw, why not be environmentally friendly with some stainless steel or glass straws? They’re pretty cool and they won’t get stuck in a tortoises nose!
One of my favorite items are aloe infused socks. They’re warm and fuzzy and my heels don’t get all dry and cracked. You can also get aloe infused gloves so now most of the dry skin issues you’re dealing with can be easily solved. There’s even a product that I’ve ordered for myself – a back applicator for moisturizers or medications. I take really hot showers in the winter and have wanted a way to apply moisturizer on my back, who knew that researching gifts for the memory challenged would solve one of my own struggles!
I’ve put quite a few items on the Favorites Things page that have been recommended by many of my guests offline, families I meet in person and things that looked highly useful in helping make caregiving just a little bit easier. I’d appreciate it if you ordered through my website, it doesn’t cost you more and the commission we’ll get from Amazon will go a long way in helping me keep this podcast free to you.
Suggestions for Giving A Gift to Someone with Memory Loss
You probably wouldn’t think that how you go about gift giving could be as important as what you give but it can be. Keeping in mind that someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia has a brain disease that screws up the processing of normal interactions. Remembering this and acting accordingly will go a long way to preventing negative situations.
Gift giving doesn’t have to be relegated to a specific holiday. Everyone likes getting gifts and the attention received while opening the gift is a positive interaction with feel-good outcomes.
Setting the Stage for Positive Gifting
A family gathering can sometimes become busy and boisterous in a good way. However, this overt expression of joy can be misunderstood by an individual who has a brain disease. Jubilation becomes loud noises, glee becomes confusion. Confusion can be caused by the perceptual problems caused by the disease. This isn’t always the case but it’s helpful to keep in mind that our loved ones brain might be faulty when it comes to processing emotions. If your loved one is becoming irritated or nervous it might be time to slow things down a bit. Maybe have the kids read a story or sing songs that they remember. The celebration is all about being together and enjoying each other so modifications might become necessary to achieve this. Making your loved one the center of attention for a little while might help them enjoy the festivities.
Giving feedback about the gift even if you think they should know what the gift is, how to use it, or what to do with it will help them process what they’re seeing. A game might not be immediately recognized as a game and we know that certain games make terrific gifts. Attaching memories to the gift might also help them to appreciate what they’re receiving. For example, if Mom is confused over the jigsaw puzzle you could say “Mom, a puzzle, I remember when I was a kid and we spent hours doing puzzles together!” Don’t ask them if they remember, they may not.
Music is also a terrific gift. Music that they remember can relax them and can provide a path to reminiscence. “Oh, we used to dance to this song all the time, let’s dance now.” Powerful stuff in such a simple gesture.
Play the game, work the puzzle, dance to the music, and talk. Remember old times as much as possible because isn’t that the point of the gift? Keeping things simple and keeping focused on being together are important. By keeping your expectations low you set everyone up for a positive time and that’s a gift in itself.