According to the 2007 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and
Figures, one out of eight people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s and
nearly one out of every two over age 85 has it. There are currently
more than 5 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s
and almost 10 million caring for someone with the disease. Therefore
chances are pretty high that this holiday season, you’ll be buying a
present for parents, grandparents, relatives or friends who have been
touched by the disease.
Holiday Gifts for Caregivers
Nearly one in four caregivers of people with
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias provide 40 hours a week or more
of care. Seventy-one percent sustain this commitment for more than a
year, and 32 percent do so for five years or more. One of the best
gifts you can give someone caring for Alzheimer’s is something that
relieves the stress or provides a bit of respite for the caregiver.
The Gift of time: Cost-effective and truly
meaningful gifts are self-made coupons for cleaning the house, preparing
a meal, moving lawn/shoveling driveway, respite times that allow the
caregiver time off to focus on what he/she needs.
Gift Certificates: Give gift certificates for
restaurants and laundry/dry cleaning services, especially those that
deliver; lawn care services; computer/technology support; maid services;
personal pampering services such as messages, facials,
Books: In addition to fictional and non-fictional
books that a caregiver might enjoy, there are a number of books created
to assist caregivers such as “The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring
for Persons with Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementing illnesses, and
Memory Loss in Later Life,” by N.L.Mace and P.V. Rabins; “A Dignified
Life: The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care: A Guide for Family
Caregivers,” by V. Bell and D. Troxel; and “Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s
Guide and Sourcebook,” by H. Gruetzner.
Digital Video Recorder (DVR)/DVDs/CDs: Purchase DVR/TiVo
and years worth of services that will enable a caregiver to record
favorite shows he/she may not be able watch, purchase his/her favorite
movies or music CDs for the caregiver to enjoy on their down time.
Holiday Gifts for People Living with Alzheimer's
Early Stage: Approximately 2.5 million people currently living
with Alzheimer’s are in the Early Stage of the disease, a period when
they can live active, healthy lives, but may begin to notice subtle
changes. Here are some gift ideas for people living in the early stages
of the disease.
Items to help remember things such as magnetic
reminder refrigerator pads, Post-It notes, baskets or trays that can be
labeled within cabinets or drawers, a small pocket-sized diary or
notebook, erasable white boards for key rooms in the house, a memorable
calendar featuring family photos – write special family occasions such
as birthdays and anniversaries.
Items that may help with daily activities such as a
memory phone that can store up to eight pictures with the names and
contact information of family and friends, automatic medication
dispenser that can help the person living with Alzheimer’s remember to
take his/her medicine, nightlights that come on automatically when it
gets dark, and clock with the date and time in large type.
Entertainment: Plan an outing to a movie,
play or concert, sporting event, museum or possibly an organized holiday
shopping outing with friends and family, favorite musical CDs or CD with
compilation of favorite tunes, VHS/DVD collection of favorite movies.
Also activities such as scrapbooking or other craft projects that are
social in nature.
You might want to think twice before buying some
gifts: Giving electronics may seem like a good idea to make life easier
for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, but that isn’t always the
case. If you decide to give someone with the disease a new piece of
electronic equipment, remember to review the operating instructions with
them slowly and more than once. Make a copy of the instructions for the
person with the disease and for yourself, so you can talk them through
the process on the phone if you need to.
Moderate/Late Stage: People in the later
stages of Alzheimer’s generally need assistance with day-to-day
activities as their memory problems continue to worsen. Here are some
gift ideas for people living in the later stages of the disease.
Items that provide sensory stimulation: In the
later stages of the disease sensory stimulation may bring back pleasant
memories, so gift ideas include scented lotions, a fluffy bathrobe in
his/her favorite color, a soft blanket or afghan to keep the person
Clothes: Comfortable, easy to remove, easily
washable clothes such as sweat suits, knits, large banded socks, shoes
with Velcro ties, wrinkle free nightgowns, nightshirts and robes.
Music: Research shows that music has a
positive impact on individuals with Alzheimer’s, bringing them back to
good times, increasing stimulation and providing an opportunity to
interact with family members. So buy favorite CDs or burn a CD full of
Framed Photographs/Photo Collage: Copy photos
of family members and friends at photo centers, insert the names of the
people in the photo and put in frames or in a photo album created
specifically for that person.
Safe Return: Enroll the person in the later
stages of Alzheimer’s in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return, a
nationwide identification program that provides assistance when a person
with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia wanders and becomes lost locally
or far from home.