Many of us have elderly relatives who live with the terrible disease that is dementia. You may be wondering what kind of gifts you can give this Christmas, to someone who has dementia. Did you know that 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia?
I work as a professional in a specialist dementia care home. I see the effects of dementia on an almost daily basis. Allow me to give you some ideas for special gifts for family and friends who live with this disease, that can make a huge difference to their lives and give them the gift of Memories this festive season.
What is dementia?
Before I discuss gift ideas, I want to just help you understand what exactly Dementia is.
Dementia isn’t just 1 disease. Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of different brain disorders that trigger memory loss. These conditions are usually progressive and eventually severe. Dementia is unfortunately a terminal condition. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, effecting 62% of people diagnosed with dementia.
Symptoms of dementia include; memory loss, mental capacity loss, speech problems, decline in mobility and motor skills, confusion, depression, personality and behaviour changes, and poor spatial skills.
So, what kind of gifts can you give to someone living with dementia, which will not only put a smile on their face, but may also make their daily lives easier?
Gift Ideas For Those Living With Dementia
Memories in Colour
We live in an age where photographs are incredibly accessable. Most of us take photographs on our smart phones and upload them to social media every single day. But, when our reliatives or friends were younger, photographs were far more important. Taking a picture was often a special event, done to celebrate a special moment.
Photos are incredibly personal. They help us remember a special time or person in particular. They help us to tell stories and reminisce on the past. We may have thousands of photographs on our phones, but for the elderly they may only have a few photos to treasure. Maybe just a single photograph of their parents, lost children and friends. These photographs mean the world to their owners.
Wouldn’t it be incredible to give some of these old photographs a new lease of life? Old photographs can often be restored and even colour added. A simple splash of colour to a black and white photograph can really revive the past.
Online store Chums wanted to bring the past to life this Christmas by colourising old black and white photographs for their latest #MemoriesInColour campaign. Chums asked their followers to send in special black and white photographs from WW1 and WW2 for colourisation. Above is an example of their amazing work. If you would like to read more about the Chums campaign, and to see more incredible colourised photographs from the #MemoriesInColour campaign click here.
Day Reminder Clock
People living with dementia can often be confused about the times of day, days or the week or when to eat and drink. A large, easy to view digital clock will help with daily activities.
Choose a clock with a large bold font, in contrasting colours (a simple black screen with LED font is best). The clock helps best with a format that says; the day of the week, date, morning/afternoon/night. You can also purchase clocks that have reminders for meal times, when to drink (dementia patients often forget to drink, causing dehydration) and any appointments they may have, such a GP appointment or hairdresser visit.
You can buy a Day Reminder Clock such as this from the Live Better With website here.
Easy To Use Mobile Phone
We worry about contacting our family and friends with dementia. If they don’t answer the phone, we start to panic. A good quality mobile phone in the 21st Century is a must, but for someone living with dementia the new Samsung or iPhone probably isn’t going to be your best bet.
A simple phone with just a few buttons is best. All a dementia friendly mobile phone needs is an on/off switch, easy-to-press buttons for answering and hanging up and a few pre-set caller buttons. This phone from DORO has 4 speed dial letters to pre-set. There is also an emergency button for the user to press that will send a message to all 4 contacts, including a GPS location. Watch the video to find out more.
People with dementia often have restless hands. You may observe your family member or friend ‘fussing’ with their hands at the cuffs of clothes, paper edges or picking at their skin or furniture. A Twiddle Muff gives something for dementia patients to keep their hands busy, safely. And the best thing about a Twiddle Muff is that you can make one yourself!
A simple knitted or crochet handwarmer is all you need, and you can sew on buttons, key rings, ribbons and other textured sensory enriching items. If you’re not feeling crafty, you can find lots of different Twiddle Muffs online but making one yourself will save you money, and may mean a little extra to your loved one.
I hope this post has given you some ideas to help you find an extra special Christmas gift for your loved one living with Dementia. If you have any other dementia friendly gift ideas, let me know in the comments!
**This post is in collaboration with Chums**
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