When it comes time to visit Mom or Dad at their memory care home, you don’t want to show up empty-handed! Small gifts or keepsakes will be highly appreciated and will be something your loved one can enjoy after you depart. Certain items make better gifts than others. Oftentimes even the simplest things can bring a lot of joy and make your next visit to your family member even more special.
Make a connection with pictures, scrapbooks, and homemade art
Visiting your loved one is all about affirming your love and connection. One of the best ways to do that is to bring new pictures of your family. Mom or Dad will love seeing their children and grand kids smiling, and the pictures can help you tell great stories of your recent adventures. Scrapbooks with older pictures are also great things to bring. Scrapbooks offer another opportunity to tell old stories. Let Mom or Dad join in the telling to share the memory together. It’s okay if they don’t get all the details right. There’s no need to correct them. Just enjoy the experience.
Finally, kids love to make hand-drawn cards, write poems, draw pictures, and make art. Encourage your children to make something for Grandma or Grandpa. Your loved one will treasure these things, especially if they get to keep them in their room. Quality doesn’t matter. It’s the thought and effort that count!
Avoid plants and sweets
It’s natural to want to treat your loved one with something beautiful or sweet like a plate of cookies or a bright bouquet of roses. However, too many sweets aren’t healthy, especially for a person with dementia who may not be able to moderate their eating as well as they did in the past. Instead, consider bringing one or two little treats, like a single piece of cake or one or two cookies for Mom to snack on.
Live plants or flowers also don’t do well in a memory care facility. Many residents aren’t able to give plants the care they need to thrive (especially because the plants must live inside). Flowers also quickly die. It’s far better to give your loved one something that is sturdy and long-lasting so they can enjoy it for a long time.
Magazines and posters
Personal gifts mean a lot to memory care residents. If Dad was an avid fisherman, then consider bringing him a fishing magazine or a poster of his favorite fishing boat. If Mom always subscribed to Better Homes and Gardens, bring a few issues for her to flip through. Consider also bringing a poster that she will enjoy, perhaps featuring flowers or a well-known painting. Short, easy-to-read items like magazines are usually better than books or long movies, which can tax memory care patients. Posters that are enjoyable to look at are also always popular.
Holidays are always a popular time to visit Mom or Dad. Consider bringing something small to help them celebrate this special time of year, like a wreath for Christmas, a menorah, a pretty Easter basket, or a Valentine’s Day card signed by the whole family. These decorations and gifts don’t have to be big or expensive (in fact, they shouldn’t be!) Even simple gifts can mean a lot.
Before your visit, check out the events calendar at your family member’s facility to see if any fun events are coming up. For instance, if a dance is on the agenda, consider bringing Mom a new blouse or hair barrette. Maybe Dad would appreciate a new bow tie. For St. Patrick’s Day, bring a fun hat or green beads that you picked up at the local party store! For a birthday or a special anniversary, talk to the staff about setting up a special place for the two of you (or your whole family) to have lunch or dinner together. You can bring in a favorite homemade dish or grab a to-go order from Dad’s favorite restaurant.
Avoid expensive and fragile gifts
We know that you want to shower your loved one in nice gifts, but people with dementia often drop and lose things. There is no sense in bringing a delicate Christmas ornament that has been in the family for generations if it might be lost or damaged. The same goes for expensive jewelry. Your loved one will be just as thrilled to receive a new pair of earrings from Target as she would from Tiffany’s. Some cozy socks or a scented lotion/aftershave can also make a great gift. Remember, your presence and love are the true gift you can give to your loved one!
If your family member is at Sunshine Care, you can always give us a call to ask questions about what to bring for your loved one. We also invite you to connect with other families through our special support group and education for caregivers and families affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. We meet every third Monday of the month from 4:00 – 5:00 PM at Sunshine Care Homes. Every group is open to the public. Give us a call at (858) 518-8949 to RSVP for our next support group meeting.
Categories: Memory Care