This is the time of year for good cheer, holiday music, mistletoe, family get-togethers and gift giving. When it comes to a loved one who has dementia, here are a few things that you probably should not consider giving.
Some Aren’t As Obvious As Others
Candles, kitchen knives and firecrackers: these are obvious safety hazards. But there are lots of things that can be hazardous in the hands of someone with Alzheimer’s disease that might not be as obvious. We know of a man living in a care community who disassembled the plumbing under the sink in his bathroom and flooded his suite. Tools can be a great gift, but not for everyone. There are many nice gifts that are designed to keep hands busy but won’t be much help in taking apart pipes.
In other words, consider the limitation imposed by a condition like dementia. This probably comes naturally to you if you are involved directly in the care of someone with a cognitive or memory disorder, but if you are looking for a gift for a friend’s mother who has Alzheimer’s disease, these limitations may not be as evident to you.
Adjust the Difficulty of Favorite Past Times
Here are some basic considerations. She probably likes to do many of the things she used to enjoy, but not at the same level. Jigsaw puzzles can be a fine gift for someone who enjoys jigsaw puzzles, but a 1000 piece puzzle might only frustrate her. There are appropriate puzzles with fewer than 100 pieces, some with as few as 6. The difficulty level needs to be appropriate. We don’t recommend puzzles that depict food in later stages: a picture of food might be mistaken for the food itself and eaten. It happens more than you would think. Similarly, lotions (another nice gift generally) might be mistaken for something to drink.