What do you buy someone with memory loss? These 20 gifts and ideas for people with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other types of memory loss will bring a splash of color and cheer into life! Caregivers will also love these happy, bright gift ideas. Some of these gifts for people with memory loss are from the Alzheimer’s Association, but most are from my experience working directly with people with early stages dementia. I also included “20 Gift Ideas for Elderly People in Long Term Care Facilities” at the end.
When I worked with the Alzheimer’s Association, my role included facilitating support groups for people whose loved ones had dementia. I also ran an early stages memory loss support group. These gift tips and ideas are inspired by my experience talking to and working with people with memory loss, as well as caregivers of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Whether or not you’re looking for gifts for elderly people with Lewy Body dementia or young adults with memory loss caused by an accident or head trauma, you’ll find some good ideas 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.
Gift Ideas for People With Memory Loss or Dementia
The more you know about your gift recipient, the easier it’ll be to find the perfect gift idea. What do you know about his or her personality traits, lifestyle, habits, likes and dislikes? Buy something that supports and celebrates who they are. Even if they can’t remember who they were or what they love, your gift will trigger deep memories. This will help them feel good, even if they aren’t quite sure why.
1. An assortment of greeting cards for birthdays, holidays, anniversaries
The Cortesia All Occasion Greeting Cards Assortment is one of my favorite gift ideas for all types of people, ages, and health conditions! Who wouldn’t want a box of beautiful cards to send at the last minute?
This is an especially good gift for someone with Alzheimer’s or early stage dementia who likes to send cards. You can pre-stamp and even pre-address the cards, or just encourage your gift recipient to send a card to whomever, whenever. It’s an interesting, creative, harmless activity that keeps idle hands and brains active.
2. A gift to cling to
The Wonderful Clinging Cross: Handheld Comfortable Cross is designed to fit anyone’s hand perfectly. It’s also the perfect gift for someone with dementia or memory loss to cling to. There is a surprising amount of comfort and calm in this cross – even if your person with dementia isn’t a Christian or a believer.
I included this gift – the Clinging Cross – in 20 Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Someone Terminally Ill or Dying. It may seem sad or even morbid, but there is something special about holding that cross. The smooth, warm wood contains a calm presence and soothing reminder of going home.
3. “Comfort food” gifts for people with memory loss
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.
4. A soothing gift for anxious people with dementia
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.
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.
When you’re looking for the right gift for someone with memory loss or dementia, consider his or her environment. Some people with memory loss need more cognitive stimulation; some patients with dementia need calming, soothing, relaxing gifts.
If your loved one has recently had surgery, you might find more helpful ideas in 17 Gifts to Help With Healing and Recovery After Surgery.
5. The gift of remembering family history
The Family Historian 6 Genealogy and Family Tree Software is a practical gift idea for a family more than a specific person with dementia or memory loss. If your loved one is in a nursing home or dementia care facility, they may have little reminders of their home and family history. A visual or pictorial representation of their family tree and roots would be a lovely reminder of the past – especially if they’re a family-oriented sort!
Your gift isn’t just a box of software that makes family trees. Rather, your gift would be to make the family tree with your loved ones; this gives you and others time to spend together. You’ll talk about family relationships as you fill out the chart. This can be a great gift for both patients and staff in dementia or elderly care homes because it “humanizes” your loved one.
6. Spend time coloring with your loved one
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 are easy to color and still intricate enough to challenge creativity.
A set of Coloring Pencils for Adult Coloring Books is a great add-on gift for someone with memory loss 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!).
If you’re taking care of a family member with dementia, read Caring for Elderly Parents? How to Get More Energy.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Music – one of the best gifts for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia
An Alarm – Clock Radio Docking Station with Remote is an easy-to-use, helpful gift for people with early stage memory loss. The clock and timer can be set to go off at a certain time (for meals, medications, walks, feeding the dog, etc).
Music is a healthy and comforting gift for people with dementia or memory loss; beloved old songs and hymns have powerful effects on the brain and body! A portable music box with a remote control will make life easier, especially if the sound and songs can be controlled from afar.
Also – the Wireless Bluetooth Headphones with Active Noise Cancelling can be a good gift for people who are easily distracted by noise. And, the headphones allow people to listen to music as loud or soft as they want, without disrupting those around them.
10. An “old-fashioned” gift 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; the act of playing records will keep them more engaged and active.
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 or memory loss, but it can give the gift of happy memories and sweet times.
11. Soft blanket – a comforting gift for people with dementia
A Luxury Fleece Bed Throw Blanket is a comfortable, warm way to pass the time. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. Date clock – a gift for people with memory loss
A Classic Oak “Day of the Week” Clock is a lovely gift for people with late stages dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. 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.
15. A book in their “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 or mother tongue. 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.
16. Tangle toys for people who fidget – a calming gift idea
The Sensory Toy Fidget Stress Relief Toy for Adults and Kids is one of the best gifts for people with dementia who feel anxious and fidget a lot. They need something to “worry” with their hands, which distracts their mind from racing wild. These sensory hand toys give them something to do with their hands, which can help calm and soothe them.
Some dementia 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.
If you haven’t found anything of interest in this list of gifts for people with memory loss, read 17 Sympathy Gift Ideas for Someone Who Lost a Mom.
17. 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.
18. A fun, cheerful gift to look at
The Fun Dogs Wall Calendar is the one of the most cheerful gifts for people with memory loss or dementia. Much of the year has already passed, but something bright and uplifting is a wonderful present. Seriously, it’s the colors, smiles and celebration that make this a great gift idea for someone with dementia or memory loss. This gift will brighten your loved one’s room or home, and give visitors and caregivers something to talk about when they visit.
20. A Shiatsu pillow massager for tired neck and back muscles
The Zyllion Shiatsu Pillow Massager With Heat is a useful gift for anyone who gets tired, sore and achy! People with memory loss, Alzheimer’s or dementia also have typical aches and pains. This gift idea will relax body and brain; this deep-kneading shiatsu massager has nodes to help relax and relieve tightness.
The heating function soothes aching muscles, and the ergonomic design is perfect to use on lower- and upper-back, neck, abdomen, calf, and thigh areas. The adjustable strap secures the cushion to a favorite chair, and the massager is equipped with an Overheat Protection Device and programmed with 20-minute Auto Shut-Off to ensure safety for people who may forget to turn it off.
20 Gift Ideas for People 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…
20 gift ideas for elderly people with memory loss in nursing homes:
- 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
- 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
- Regularly scheduled visits from you!
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 a lot of gift articles, and always encourage giving gifts that inspire love, laughter, and hope. 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.
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.
If you need birthday ideas and tips for your spouse, read Gifts That Will Make Your Wife Happy on Her 50th Birthday.