If you have a loved one who is living with dementia, you might be struggling to find a suitable Christmas gift, or perhaps you’d like to gift them something that will assist them in their dementia journey. New products and aids for people living with dementia are constantly being invented, and it can be hard to keep up with the changing technology. We have collated some ideas below that will hopefully make your Christmas shopping experience a little easier.
Gifts to help around the house
Knowing what day it is, or whether it is 10 in the morning or 10 at night, are things that most of us will take for granted. However, for people living with dementia, this information can become muddled, and this is often exacerbated by the increased daylight hours in summer. Specialist clocks will often have the day of the week, as well as morning, afternoon, evening, or night written clearly on the face. Some clocks can also be programmed to give reminders, such as ‘take your medication.’
People living with dementia often struggle to remember small things, and for the most part this is harmless, but when it comes to things like remembering to turn off the stove, it can be extremely dangerous. Stove alarms are sensors that attach to the stove or oven, and they sound if either becomes too hot, or has been left on for too long. This is particularly helpful for people who are still living independently but just need a little extra help.
Motion-activated memo reminders:
These can be placed around the home to offer reminders in key places, for example if a person living with dementia goes to leave the house, the device will sense their movement and read a message aloud, such as ‘don’t forget your keys.’ These can be recorded with loved ones’ voices for an added personal touch.
Music has been proven to help people living with dementia, by reducing anxiety, maintaining language skills and helping with memory. Simple and accessible radios with clear on and off buttons allow people living with dementia to continue to enjoy their favourite music. Some models can even be personalised, allowing users to have playlists and customised buttons. A well-regarded model is the Relish Dementia Radio.
These have proven to be excellent for people living with dementia. Sensory cushions, or blankets, will have a range of different attachments designed to stimulate the senses, such as bells, different-textured materials, rings, ribbons, anything you can think of! If you enjoy arts and crafts, consider making your own cushion, but otherwise they are widely available.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s can lead to disturbed sleep patterns, often caused by anxiety or agitation. Weighted blankets can alleviate anxiety symptoms through what is known as Deep Pressure Therapy and are often a great source of comfort to people living with dementia. Weighted blankets vary in size and weight, and most providers’ websites will offer a guide to the right blanket for you depending on your size. Do bear in mind that these blankets can be unsuitable for some people, so you should always consult a doctor first.
Realistic Pet Toys:
There has been a recent surge in popularity for realistic pet toys, such as dogs or cats, and these can be particularly comforting for animal lovers who are living with dementia. These toys are often battery-operated in order to look as though they are breathing. These can bring back happy memories to people living with dementia who perhaps kept pets their whole life, and stroking them can be a source of comfort as well.
Homemade or personal gifts
There are many websites that allow you to create photo albums, calendars, or even items like blankets or mugs using your own photos. Particularly if your loved one is living in a care home, it can really help to comfort them in between visits from family and friends to be able to see their loved ones’ faces all around. This sort of gift can also help to trigger happy memories and provide a sense of familiarity.
For more general information about dementia, please visit our advice centre: https://www.greensleeves.org.uk/advice-centre/