Gift ideas for people living with dementia and their caregivers


By Kay Kaylor
SUN Columnist
For San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA), I am not only a part-time long-term care ombudsman, advocating for residents at Pine Ridge, a 24-hour extended care home, and BeeHive, an assisted living residence. I also am an aging and disability resource specialist and Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) and State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor. Information on the many aging and care concerns will be included here.
The Alzheimer’s Association (AA) offers a gift-giving guide for caregivers and people living with dementia in early to late stages. Holidays can be stressful and lonely for elders and the AA suggests that careful planning can make the season safe, comfortable and enjoyable for everyone. Here are some gift ideas.
Early stages
To help people remember, the AA lists items such as magnetic refrigerator pads, Post-it Notes, a journal or notebook and a calendar featuring family photos with important dates marked. Other ideas, to help with everyday tasks, include an automatic medication dispenser, a memory phone that stores some contacts with photos, automatic night-lights, CDs and DVDs, and outings such as a concert, sports event or a shopping trip with loved ones.
Middle to late stages
These gift ideas appeal to the senses and bring pleasant memories: a bathrobe in a favorite color or other comfortable clothing easily removed and washed, a soft blanket, scented lotion, a photo collage or album and music from earlier eras.
A suggestion from elsewhere and available at various prices is a soft and realistic stuffed animal that moves; perhaps it could like a former pet or one the person is separated from in a care home. A similar gift would be a lifelike baby doll.
Gifts for caregivers
The AA notes that the most important gift for caregivers is free time, such as homemade coupons promising to do specific chores and gift cards for self-pampering or providing services.
SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare. For further information, please call me at 264-0501, ext. 1 or send an email to