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Shanna Huber
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As the holidays approach, purchasing a gift for an individual with
dementia can become difficult. Please be sure to keep in mind where
the individual is living as to what type of gifts will be appropriate. If
they are in a facility be sure to ask the staff there what is best. Below
is a list of gift suggestions that can assist family members and friends
with this task:
1. Electric coffee or tea pots that turn off after a short period of time
2. Large desk calendars to mount on the wall
3. Medication holders—with timer to indicate time to take
4. Photo albums with names and dates next to each picture
5. Registration in the Medic Alert®/Safe Return Program®
6. Simple-to-manage clothing (tube socks, easy on sweatshirts,
tennis shoes with Velcro closings)
7. Gift certificates for hair cuts and manicures
8. Older music (especially music from the 30’s and 40’s)
9. Tapes of sermons or church services
10. Cuddly stuffed animals
11. Tickets to take them to a musical event or circus
12. Trip to a shopping mall and lunch
13. Visit to the local senior center to participate in activities
14. Bird feeders
15. Tapes of bird songs
16. Gift certificates to adult day services
17. Hugs, Hugs, Hugs
18. Short visits often
Page 14
Expectations and Action Steps
Adjust expectations. Discuss holiday celebrations with relatives and
close friends. Call a face-to-face meeting or arrange for a long--
distance telephone conference call to discuss major holiday
celebrations. Make sure that family members understand the
situation and have realistic expectations. By discussing past
celebrations, you may be able to agree on how you'll handle
upcoming holidays.
Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage.
No one can expect you to maintain every holiday tradition or event. If
you've always invited 15-20 people to your home, consider inviting
five for a simple meal. Also consider asking others to bring dishes for
a "potluck" meal or to host the meal at their home.
You may wish to familiarize others with the situation by composing a
letter that makes these points:
"I'm writing this letter to let you know how things are going at
our house. While we're looking forward to your visit, we
thought it might be helpful if you understood our current
situation before you arrive.
"You may notice that __ has changed since you last saw
him/her. Among the changes you may notice are _. I've
enclosed a picture so you know how _ looks now.
"Because _ sometimes has problems remembering and
thinking clearly, his/her behavior is a little unpredictable.
Please understand that _ may not remember who you are
and may confuse you with someone else. Please don't feel
offended by this. He/she appreciates your being with us and
so do I. Please treat _ as you would any person. A warm
smile and a gentle touch on _'s shoulder or hand will be
appreciated more than you can know.
"I would ask that you call before you come to visit or when
you're nearby so we can prepare for your arrival. Caregiving
is a tough job, and I'm doing the very best I can. With your
help and support, we can create a holiday memory that we'll
treasure." Page 3
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