These 20 gifts and ideas for people with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other types of cognitive disorders will bring a splash of color and cheer into their lives! Caregivers will love these gifts, too. These ideas make life happier, easier, and brighter for everyone.
The Fun Dogs Wall Calendar is the least practical, most cheerful gift idea on this list! Not every person with dementia needs to be stimulated – nor does everyone need to know what day it is – but we all need to smile. This gift will brighten your loved one’s room or home, and give visitors and caregivers something to talk about when they visit. Actually, it IS a practical gift for Alzheimer’s disease patients who care what day it is – and many people do. In this gift list for people with dementia you’ll find more of the same types of ideas (practical and cheerful) for people with brain-related diseases. Some of the gifts and tips are from the Alzheimer’s Association, but most are from my experience working with people with early stages dementia. I also included a “Quick List of Gift Ideas for Elderly People in Long Term Care Facilities” guide at the end of this article, just in case you don’t find a gift that rings your bell in this list.
The best gift ideas for people with dementia depend on what type of brain or body disease they have and what stage of dementia they’re in (eg, early versus late stages dementia, Alzheimer’s disease versus Lewy Body dementia). For this article, I researched the best gifts and ideas that would be helpful and encouraging for people in any and all stages of dementia and with all types of memory loss. I also included a variety of practical and creative ideas to help you find the perfect gift for a loved one with dementia.
If you’re not sure what stage or type of dementia your loved one has, you might do some research on elderly people with Lewy Body dementia. But the best way to choose the right – and most comforting and cheerful – gift for someone with dementia is to simply know who he or she is! The more you know about his or her personality traits, lifestyle, habits, likes and dislikes, the easier it’ll be to find the right gift or idea.
15 Best Gifts for People With Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease
There is a huge range of stages, abilities, and levels of memory loss in someone who has dementia. Further, other health conditions can make finding the best gifts for people with dementia even more challenging. If your loved one has recently had surgery, you might find Post Surgery Gift Ideas to Help With Recovery and Healing helpful.
Generally, the best gifts for people who have dementia are large, colorful, and cheerful – but it depends what stage of memory loss they’re in. I write lots of gift articles, and always encourage giving gifts that are reminiscent of love, laughter, and family. Some of these gift ideas for people with dementia or memory loss are practical and others are creative – but most are a mixture of the two.
The TwiddleCat Therapy Gift is a sensory aid for people who tend to be anxious or fidgety. It’s a plush, soft cat stuffy that is an effective, safe sensory therapy tool. Holding and stroking it reduces stress and increases brain function in elderly patients, parents and grandparents who are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. This is a practical gift idea that is both comforting and easy – especially for patients who tend to be upset and anxious about their surroundings.
When you’re reading different gift lists or guides for people with dementia, remember that the right gift for anyone depends on his or her personality, lifestyle, and environment. I tried to find the the best gifts for people with dementia or memory loss, or who have been diagnosed with a condition such as Alzheimer disease or Lewy Body dementia, but I don’t know your loved one the way you do.
The Ancestry Paper Our Family Tree Chart is a more practical gift idea – especially if your loved one is in a nursing home or dementia care facility. It’s a picture representation of a family history. This allows everyone to see the family structure at a glance – and it may give you an opportunity to spend time with your loved one. You and she can talk about the family relationship as you fill out the chart together. This can be a great gift for both patients and staff in dementia or Alzheimer’s care homes because it “humanizes” your loved one to the people who work there. This Family Tree Chart was designed by Karen Foster – she believes that life’s events and precious moments deserved to be recorded and protected for years to come. Your family’s stories and history should seen and told over and over again by many generations. That’s what makes this a wonderful gift for people with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or early stage memory loss. You can produce your own treasured heirloom gift – is a pictorial family tree for everyone to enjoy.
A “Happy Coloring!” coloring book for adults
The Happy Coloring: Easy Flowers – Coloring Book for Adults is a collection of beautiful flower designs will captivate and excite both beginner and intermediate adults who loved to color as children. Coloring is a relaxing, calming way to reduce stress and anxiety for many people. Patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease tend to feel afraid, confused, and anxious. These feelings are scary, and a coloring book might be a bright and cheerful distraction. The designs in this coloring book for adults are rather easy to color, while still being intricate enough to challenge a loved one’s creativity and be enjoyable. The images are printed on the fronts of pages only, so there is no worry about bleed-through if markers are used.
A set of Coloring Pencils for Adult Coloring Books is a great stocking stuffer to go with this gift for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Make sure you get pencil crayons that don’t need to be pushed down on – I once made the mistake of buying cheap coloring pencils, and they didn’t give good color. If you pair these two gifts with time spent coloring with your loved one, you’ll make it priceless and unforgettable (for you!). The best gifts for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive disorders help them feel relaxed and calm, safe and loved.
A bright, clear, easy-to-see clock and calendar
The Memory Loss Digital Calendar Day Clock is a gift that helps people with dementia remember what day it is. This is one of the biggest frustrations for people with memory loss – and their caregivers! This particular clock has non-abbreviated dates. It isn’t the most fun or colorful gift for people with dementia, but it is invaluable.
The words dementia, Alzheimer’s or memory loss aren’t printed on the clock itself, so it won’t make your loved one feel odd. This is a great gift for a loved one with dementia, and it’s quickly becoming a perfect Senior Care and In Home Care necessity.
An automatic pill dispenser to make life easy and safe
The LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser keeps drug and medication doses locked away until the exact moment they need to be taken. This isn’t them most cheerful gift for someone with dementia, but it is practical – and possibly life-saving! Featuring a timer and alerts, this gift protects people with dementia or Alzheimer’s against mistaken or forgotten dosages, and it eliminates the need for constant refilling of medication.
This practical gift for people with dementia provides peace of mind to patients and their caregivers. The alerts are easily programmed to the minute via the LCD interface. And, you can quickly customize the patient’s drug regimen with one of six rotating templates for 1-6 daily doses. Forgetful patients can depend on this device as their trusted personal nurse for many years to come. Battery-operated (4 AAs included).
Speaking of caregivers, you might find Thoughtful Gifts a Caregiver Will Love and Appreciate helpful.
Music – one of the best gifts for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia
An Alarm – Clock Radio Docking Station with Remote is what my husband and I gave his elderly parents last year. They don’t have Alzheimer’s or dementia, but their older eyes really appreciate the easy-to-read display on this radio.
Music is a beautiful gift for older people with Alzheimer’s or early stages memory loss because of the health benefits on the brain. A portable music box with a remote control will make life easier – and it’s especially helpful because it has a remote control. Your loved one can turn the music on and off – or the volume up and down – without having to get up.
Also – the Wireless Bluetooth Headphones with Active Noise Cancelling is a fantastic gift for elderly people with dementia because it allows them to listen to music as loud as they want, without disrupting those around them. This is one of those music gift ideas that is often overlooked, yet it is so valuable and appreciated!
Another gift idea for music lovers
An old-fashioned Crosley 2 Speed Manual Turntable with Pro-Ject Tone Arm would be a welcome blast from the past! This is a cheerful, happy gift for people with dementia who love music – or who want to get lost in the past. It’s small portable turntable is one of the best gifts for people with memory loss, because music helps keep them engaged.
Research shows that music has a positive impact on people with dementia because it brings them back to good times and provides an opportunity to interact with family members. Music and interaction are important when coping with dementia because music stimulates the brain and sparks memories of days gone by. Listening to music won’t cure dementia, but it can give the gift of happy memories and sweet times.
Soft blanket – a comforting gift for people with dementia
A Fishers Finery Ultra Plush Fleece Throw for Comfort and Warmth is the softest, most elegant throw imaginable. This is a great gift for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia because it’s not too heavy or warm. It is made of Bamboo Viscous derived micro fleece velvet, which is soft and luxurious. It’s also machine washable.
The Alzheimer’s Organization says this is one of the best gifts for people with dementia or memory loss because it offers “sensory stimulation.” Plus, this blanket just feels comforting and good. When I asked my Twitter followers what they thought the best gifts for people with dementia or memory loss were, the most popular answer was “soft, cuddly things.” You’re never too old for soft, comfortable wraps and shawls and blankets that felt really good.
Help hearing the television – a gift idea for everyone nearby!
The TV Stereo Assistive Listening Headphones System is one of the best gifts for elderly people who can’t hear the television set. Whether they live in their private home or an assisted living facility, this system will help them easily hear the television – and it won’t disrupt other people living in the house.
Of course, there is no connection between hearing loss and dementia or memory loss. I just think this is a great gift idea, and wish I would’ve included it in 27 Gifts to Surprise and Delight Your Elderly Parents or Grandparents. It’s not as stigmatizing as a hearing aid, and it would make life and entertainment much easier.
A photo frame or family calendar to hang on the wall
A Wood Hanging Picture Photo Frame offers both vertical and horizontal hanging options, and is a lovely way to remind your loved one that he or she is surrounded by people who care.
The horizontal version of this hanging picture photo frame is my favorite, because it’s less “busy” than the bundles of photos. People with dementia or memory loss are often prone to confusion, and a vertical photo frame is more linear than a horizontal one.
A family calendar with photos is a related gift for people with dementia. I recently created a personalized calendar for my Little Sister (I’m a Big Sister with the Big Sisters/Big Brothers organization). VistaPrint makes it super easy and fun to upload and organize your personal photos into a calendar. And it’s definitely an affordable gift idea ($7.50 for the calendar, plus $15 for one week shipping to Canada). I also created a photo calendar for my husband, and will give the same one to my mother-in-law.
This is one of the best gifts for people with dementia because it’s a constant visual reminder that they are loved…even if they don’t remember exactly who loves them.
Date clock – a gift for people with memory loss
A Classic Oak Day Clock is a lovely gift for people in late stages dementia. It helps them remember what day it is, and it’s easy to read. It’s also much easier to see than a traditional calendar, which is often smaller and requires us to be right in front of it.
The date clock is similar to the memory loss digital camera, which I used at the top of this list of the best gifts for people with dementia. This day clock might be a good gift for who live in their own homes, and can be mounted in the living room or kitchen.
Does your loved one have trouble sleeping? People with Alzheimer’s and other types of cognitive diseases often do. You may find 14 “Sleepytime” Gifts for Insomniacs and People Who Can’t Sleep helpful.
A book in her “Mother Tongue” or childhood language
When I did an internship with the Alzheimer’s Society, I learned that some people with dementia revert to their original language. If they learned English as a second language, they sometimes forget how to speak it as the dementia progresses, and they speak the language they learned as a baby.
If your loved one has reverted to her original German, Italian, Mandarin, etc – why not give her the gift of a book in her childhood language? It might be a lovely way to comfort her by bringing her warm memories of her childhood.
Tangle toys for people who fidget – a calming gift idea
The Set of 5 Tangle Fidget Toys: Original Metallic Textured Relax and Therapy is one of the best gifts for people with different types of dementia who tend to fidget and need a distraction. It gives them something to do with their hands.
Some Alzheimer’s patients constantly twist and wring their hands; the fidget toys might be more soothing. It can be relaxing to twist and turn these soft, rubberized pieces around and around, and the creators say it relieves stress and helps with mind wellness.
“Comfort food” gifts for people with dementia
If your loved one is in a care facility, bring him the gift of his favorite stew or dinner! If he loved to cook, perhaps you could bring him home for an evening of cooking and dining. If she likes new experiences and adventures, take her to an Ethiopian or Japanese restaurant for lunch. As I mentioned earlier, the best gifts for people with dementia or memory loss really do depend on his or her personality, culture, lifestyle, and likes/dislikes.
If you haven’t found anything of interest in this list of gifts for people with dementia, have a look at Christmas Gift Ideas for Elderly Parents or Grandparents.
Dementia wristband – a gift idea for caregivers
A Pre-engraved “Dementia” 8.5″ Stainless Steel Medical Alert Identification Bracelet may not be the most comforting gift for people with dementia or memory loss, but it would be extremely valuable for a caregiver! One of the worst fears for the families of people with Alzheimer’s disease is getting lost. An identifying bracelet can help them get home safely.
Along the same lines, a MedicAlert Safely Home bracelet works to help return lost or separated individuals safely to their families. If your person with dementia likes jewelry, she may not even realize the importance of this bracelet. Some Alzheimer’s wristbands are beautiful – not like a hospital wristband! But if your loved one would be offended or hurt at receiving a Safely Home bracelet, then it’s definitely not one of the best gift ideas.
A hand muff designed for therapeutic tactile stimulation for patients with dementia
The Twiddle Cat Activity/Comfort Aid features soft, cozy, fleecy fur in shades of chocolate brown or cream, with rich satin embellishments. An Alzheimer patient’s hands and mind are kept active and engaged by the interior soft-plastic orbit ball, a sealed satin pouch, a loop of multi-colored wooden beads, streaming textured ribbons, and a Velcro pull patch.
There are different types of hand muffs available for people with dementia or other cognitive diseases. The best ones feature double-thickness, attached ribbons, and buttons and beads. They’re designed to offer tactile stimulation for patients with restless hands – and they calm the mind and body.
A Quick List of Gift Ideas for Seniors in Long-Term Care Facilities
The online resource Dementia Today has a good list of practical gift ideas for people who are living in nursing homes or other types of long-term residential facilities. Their list is no longer available, so I included some of their ideas here…
Quick gift ideas for elderly people with dementia:
- Letter Writing Gift Set With Envelopes – with pads of paper and pens to write notes
- Bless You! Wood Tissue Box Cover – a Kleenex box decorative holder
- The Hallmark All Occasion Handmade Boxed Set of Assorted Greeting Cards with Card Organizer – a box of miscellaneous greeting cards with pre-stamped envelopes
- Body & Earth Hand Cream Gift Set – with scented soap, lotions and other toiletries (not a good gift for people who are sensitive to smell)
- Filled picture frames and photo albums
- Homemade treats (if allowed! Avoid nuts if this is a gift for someone with dementia who lives in a care facility)
- Decorative hand towels
- Lap blankets (a soft, comforting gift for someone with dementia)
- Phone cards
- Homemade arts and crafts (from grandchildren)
- Favorite music on CD
- Large-print books and puzzles (a cognitively challenging gift idea for a person with Alzheimer’s disease)
- Housecoat and slippers
- Bed jacket, shawl or nice cardigan sweater
- New shirts and pants
- New blanket or afghan
- Hats, scarves and gloves
- Stuffed animals
- Large dial watch or alarm clock
- Costume jewelry and hair accessories
If you’re caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, or other type of dementia, read Caring for Elderly Parents? How to Get More Energy.
Do you have any suggestions, tips, or gift ideas for people with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or memory loss? Please share your comments below; I’d love to add to this list of gifts.