Holiday Suggestions for Loved Ones with Memory Loss

December 15, 2020

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is here. It is always difficult to find the perfect gift for the special people in our lives, and this is especially true when shopping for seniors who reside in assisted living communities or nursing homes with limited space for personal belongings. This year, sentimental gifts are especially appreciated since family visits have most likely been reduced and social gatherings limited. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or Dementia, you may want to take the extra time to select something that will encourage fond memories or provide sensory stimulation, to give them the most enjoyment. Here are some ideas:

  • A small magnetic (or stick-on) digital clock for a bathroom mirror can help with orientation to time of day in a location where clocks aren’t commonly found.
  • For women, choose bracelets and necklaces designed to stretch over their hands or head.  Clasps are difficult to manage when joints are painful or muscles are weak.
  • Scents can trigger happy memories. Investigate to find out which special perfume, cologne, or after-shave lotion was their favorite. Choose a small bottle with an easy-to-open flip top. Sweet smelling soaps, caches and lotions also capture the aroma of favorite flowers and can help create a soothing environment.
  • Warm, cozy socks, slippers, or a lap blanket will brighten up their room and help them to relax.
  • A box of family pictures or old greeting cards can provide hours of reminiscing. Or create a scrapbook, photo book, or framed picture for their nightstand.
  • Get a seasonal wreath for the door.  Be sure to check requirements as they relate to fire safety.
  • Banners are great for doors and walls; people like to connect with their favorite sports team or a grandchild’s college insignia.
  • A number of small gifts that are individually wrapped and placed in a stocking or basket may be more fun than opening a single gift.    Fill it with practical items like socks, lip balm, small packs of tissues, hand sanitizer or a new mask. Once you start, you will likely think of other small additions.

For those who are caring for a family member at home this year, the festivities may be much different with a small gathering or no get-together at all. Take advantage of this quieter holiday season to relax and safely enjoy the simple pleasures of the season together at home. Involve your loved one in holiday rituals to foster a sense of independence and comfort. Play festive  music and watch a favorite holiday movie together, bake cookies, trim the tree and take a stroll around the block to enjoy neighbors’ lights and decorations. At McLean, our Life Enrichment team works hard to engage residents in holiday season activities that can be done in residents’ rooms, in small groups and through technology. Call us at 860-658-3786 to learn more about how our Assisted Living residents are spending their days enjoying enriching activities during this unprecedented time.

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