Holiday gift ideas for people with Alzheimer's

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I would like to start off this month's article by thanking those who helped make this year's Walk to End Alzheimer's a great success. We are still accepting contributions through the end of the year at www.alz.org/SCwalk.

A friend of mine suggested with the holiday season coming up that I highlight some gift ideas for individuals with Alzheimer's.

For those in the early stages of Alzheimer's, it is very helpful to have items available that help them remember, such as:

  • Magnetic reminder refrigerator pads
  • Post-It notes
  • Baskets or trays that can be labeled within cabinets or drawers
  • Small pocket-sized diary or notebook
  • Erasable white boards for key rooms in the house
  • Calendar featuring family photos - write special family occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries

It is also helpful to give items that help with everyday tasks or keep them engaged, such as:

  • 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 medicine
  • Nightlights that come on automatically when it gets dark
  • Clock with the date and time in large type
  • An outing to a movie, play or concert, sporting event, museum or possibly an organized holiday shopping trip with friends and family
  • DVD collection of favorite movies
  • Activities such as scrapbooking or other craft projects

For those that are in the middle to late stages of the disease, you can help stimulate their senses by giving such gifts as:

  • Soft blanket or afghan to keep warm
  • Scented lotions
  • Fluffy bathrobe in a favorite color
  • Comfortable clothes that are easy to remove and easily washable, such as sweat suits, large banded socks, shoes with Velcro fasteners, wrinkle-free nightgowns, nightshirts and robes.

Music has a positive impact on individuals with all stages of Alzheimer's, so buy favorite CDs or burn a CD full of musical favorites.

Finally, don't forget the family caregiver(s) when you are giving gifts this season. Here are some suggestions.

  • Cost-effective and truly meaningful gifts are self-made coupons for cleaning the house, cooking a meal, mowing the lawn and giving time off so a caregiver can do something to meet his or her needs.
  • Give gift certificates for restaurants, laundry, dry cleaning services, lawn care services, computer or other technology support, maid services and personal pampering services such as massages and pedicures.

James Wogsland, MBA and Certified Senior Advisor, is co-owner of ComForCare Home Care. JWogsland@ComForCare.com; www.HiltonHead.ComForCare.com

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