It's the feelings that matter. People with Alzheimer's lose many abilities, but what they don't lose is the capacity for feeling.
What once was a gift may no longer be right; what was never a gift may suddenly have become the greatest one.
We have all dreamed about gifts when we were children, waited with excitement as we got older, wondering what surprise we would find when we opened the fancy wrapper – even if it was tin foil, wrapped by a child.
Gifts for people with Alzheimer's are a little bit like that. Whether your Alzheimer's loved one understands the gift, or even particularly cares about it in the later stages, is not really what counts.
It's the feelings that matter. Your loved one with Alzheimer's disease can sense your feelings and responds in kind.
Gift IdeasSo really, in a very deep sense, the gift you give to a loved one with Alzheimer's is one that you give to yourself as well. A night out at a quiet restaurant, tickets for a happy movie, games like checkers, dominoes and at the earliest stages, even a durable chess set are all great gifts.
Electronics are sure-fire gifts. Easy-to-read calendar clocks look good and help orient people with dementia. Therapeutic lamps liven up living spaces, reduce agitation and boost mood.
A Photo-Printing eMailbox or an E-cloud Photo-Frame makes sharing pictures easier than ever. These easy technologies can take pictures from everyone in the family every day and display them automatically, keeping generations together while reducing feelings of loneliness or distance.
Amplified photo-phones keep the conversations going. Wireless key finders help locate cellphones, pets, remotes and keys, while special seat cushions and "Handy Bars" help loved ones get around.
CDs or DVDs of your loved one's favorite songs, movies or Broadway musicals are wonderful, even in the middle to late stages. Some people will appreciate the best-known love stories or comedies touching on Alzheimer's. These include:
Easy-to-wear clothes, snuggly stadium blankets or comforters can provide ease and a sense of well-being. Special foods, books with colorful illustrations or lots of photos (children and grand vistas are great!) and yes, soft dolls and stuffed toys provide a reassuring feeling, too. Remember, the later the stage, the younger the functional and emotional level.
Gifts for CaregiversIt's always great to receive a gift, but for caregivers the experience is even more precious, since the giving is often going the other way, all day, every day.
Think "Afternoon at the Spa", aromatherapy shower gel, "Gift Certificate for a Massage", a scented foot spa, a "Respite Day" or "Weekend Off" (this is where friends or family become essential, so that someone else can do the caregiving for a while). Free gifts often mean the most – a day of help with housework, a weekly cleaning assist, someone else to do the cooking – anything to lighten the load.
It is possible to bake cookies, buy a cake, a box of chocolates – anything that will show your appreciation for all their hard work. It doesn't have to be expensive; it just has to be there.
Living in the MomentPeople with Alzheimer's, more than anyone else know how to live in the moment. For just an hour, an afternoon or day, joining with your loved one in that moment can make for a very special day.
By Ann Julian