When a loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, finding the right gift can feel daunting. After all, every person has different needs at different stages of the illness. No matter what you choose, personalized gifts are always a way to fill a home with photos, activities and comforts specific to your loved one’s unique personality.
Choose a gift just as you would have before the illness began, taking new challenges into account while still highlighting the love that surrounds them. Browse our list for inspiration to make your loved one’s day a little brighter.
1. Dog Name Scarf
If you have a sweet furry family member helping out around the house, a name bandana is the perfect gift. This small reminder can ease any confusion.
2. Modeling Clay
Working with your hands is a great way to stay active and creative. If your loved one is up for it, attend a pottery class together to spend the day getting messy and showing off your creative muscles. At home, they can practice their new skills with various colors of modeling clay.
3. Essential Oil Rollers
Calming smells can be helpful for confusion or anxiety. Combine coconut oil with soothing scents like lavender, mint and orange.
4. Mom Bookmark
This unique bookmark both holds the page and keeps the book from flipping closed as you read. Cut out simple shapes of felt and elastic to construct this bookmark for mom. Craft a collection for them to keep on their bookshelf.
5. Photo Book
Recount your family vacation with vibrant images in a coffee table book. If this is a gift for dad this Father’s Day, spend the whole afternoon together flipping through the images and telling him about your adventures.
6. Museum Memories
A day at the museum is a relaxing way to spend time together and create memories. If there’s a particular exhibit or piece your loved one would be interested in, take a day to slowly browse the galleries. Check out the gift shop for a small souvenir to spark their memory.
7. Travel Wall Hanging
Recount images of past travels around the world or from a family vacation in a homemade fabric wall hanging. Choose a spot to hang the photos together in a place where they’ll see it each day so they can be reminded of the fun times together.
8. Keep Time
A large wall or table clock with bright digits and easy-to-use buttons will help your loved one keep track of time and date. The better they can see the numbers and use the buttons, the stronger they’ll feel about being in control of their time.
9. Lyrics Scarf
If mom or grandma has a favorite song, print the lyrics across a cozy throw or scarf. Sit down together and listen to the song as you marvel at your DIY gift to keep her cozy.
10. DIY Fabric Napkins
Fabric napkins can simplify meal time, especially when you use soft and easy-to-wash fabric. Choose your loved one’s favorite colors to add a bright accent to their day.
11. DIY Heating Pad
This homemade heating pad is the perfect shape for balancing on a shoulder, around your neck or behind your lower back. Fill the fabric shape with rice and walk through the steps of heating up the pad together when you present your gift.
12. Message Board
Create a washable message board to write reminders and love notes to your family member every morning or each time you visit. Frame in a rustic wood design and add a message on the glass to prompt them each day.
13. Family Motto Display
Etch all your loving “family rules” on a block of wood painted with a splash of vibrant color. The list will act as a reminder that your loved one is in a supportive and caring place all day long.
14. Collage Blanket
Set three family photos in the center of a striped fleece throw blanket. Curl up with the blanket for a cozy afternoon in to look at old albums and relax.
15. Simple Planter
Add small wooden dowels to the base of a white planter and fill with succulents or other easy-to-care-for greenery. This makes a great gift for seniors settling into a new space. If they have a love of plants, pair with a poster of plant types to keep their green thumb strong.
16. Painting Kit
Art is a great way to showcase creativity and relieve stress. Blank canvases, washable paints and a set of brushes will set your loved one up for a day of peaceful painting. Hang up their art when they’re done so everyone can enjoy it.
17. Kitchen Tools
If your loved one is a talented chef, it may be difficult for them to lose their ability to cook for themselves and family. Make sure they have a collection of safe tools to continue cooking well into their older days—silicone spatulas, smaller and duller knives and bowls with easy-to-grip handles will keep the cooking alive.
18. Meal Subscription
If you live far away from your loved one that lives at home with a caregiver, a meal subscription service is a gift for both of them. It’s one less step for the caregiver to keep track of and ensures they both have healthy and satisfying meals every day. It’s a great way to show your love from afar.
19. Personalized Calendar
A vibrant photo calendar is a great way to keep track of time but also cherish memories. Every month can include a new family photo, a message from loved ones or bright and colorful works of art. Display in an obvious place in the kitchen for your loved one to see each day.
20. Heart Quilt
If quilting has been an important part of your family’s traditions, create a gift for dementia patients that can lay across the couch, bed or hang on the wall at home.
21. Spring Wreath
Sensory items are helpful for Alzheimer’s patients, especially when they add color and calming scents in the home. Attach eucalyptus and lavender to an embroidery hoop as a gift for grandma this spring.
22. Easy Slip-Ons
Simplify heading out of the house with loved ones by customizing a pair of slip-on shoes. Add a design to the top with paint, fabric or dye.
23. Photo Accordion
Handmade paper photo displays make great additions around the home or if you’re looking for gifts for nursing home patients. Sit with them unfurl the accordion together to discuss the loving images inside.
24. Movie Day
An easy gift that allows you to spend time with your loved one is a pair of tickets to see the latest movie in theaters. This is a great way to keep your loved one engaged and learning, while also giving you the opportunity to spend the day with them. Don’t forget the popcorn!
25. Digital Tablet
A digital tablet will allow your loved one to keep track of important dates, the time and play games. Pair with a backup charger so they’re never without battery power.
26. Live Theater
Live theater is great for people of all ages but can be incredibly special for those getting older. If your local playhouse is putting on a revival of an old musical or play, it’s a great opportunity to spark memories your loved one may have forgotten.
27. Mason Jar Frames
Not only are these glass photo frames easy to make, but you can switch out the images each time you visit. Place a black-and-white photo in painted mason jars and gift in a set of four.
28. Spring Planter
This lovely gift for mom will greet her each morning as she takes in the scent of fresh flowers. Use a stencil with the kids to paint “mom” across the front in vibrant spring pastels, so she has something from everyone in the family.
29. House Key Holder
In the earlier days of Alzheimer’s, create small ways to keep your loved one organized as they come and go with a spouse or caretaker. This key holder includes a loving message and a place to keep everything in one place.
30. Tree Of Life
Weave a vibrant mix of beads into a tree-of-life charm to place in your mother’s window or thread onto a necklace chain. The beads catch the light and spread color throughout the room, or give her something to wear and think of you daily.
31. Sleep Mask
Need a small gift for a loved one struggling with sleep? Make your own silk eye mask with a soft cord for blocking out unnecessary light as they wind down for a nap or in the evening.
32. DIY Triangle Shawl
This beginner’s knitting pattern is both cozy and easy to slip over your shoulders. Measure to your recipient’s shoulders for a perfect fit on a chilly afternoon.
33. Shadow Box Collage
A classic shadow box project allows you to fill a wide frame with photo prints, miniature decor and even small labels with names and loving messages. It can also help remind them of some of their favorite memories.
34. Knitted Slippers
Are you a passionate knitter or crocheter? Follow a pattern to create easy-to-wear slippers for around the house. Add small traction discs to the base to prevent slipping.
Podcasts and audiobooks are a great way to keep your loved one stimulated and learning. A set of wireless headphones that they can take anywhere will let them listen whenever they want.
Choosing a gift for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be emotionally and logistically challenging. Even if you’re unsure of what the best gift will be, know that the personalized care you put into finding the present won’t go unnoticed. Pair each present on this list with the gift of time. Peruse favorite photos in a family album, listen to music and be present with love and support.