What Holiday Gifts Should You Give to a Loved One in a Memory Care Facility?

Gifts to give a Loved One in a Memory Care FacilityThe holidays are coming, and you might be putting together your gift shopping list so you can dominate the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. If you have a parent, spouse, sibling, or grandparent who now lives in a memory care facility, what should you get them? There are several factors to take into consideration. The amount of private space available has changed, and their personality may have changed as well! How can you find your loved one the perfect holiday gift? Here are a few important tips that we give the families of our residents at Sunshine Care:

1.    Think Small

If your loved one lives in a memory care facility or other type of nursing home, their private space is limited. They most likely have a shared or private bedroom and share a public space with a group of other residents. Whatever you give to your loved one should be small enough to fit comfortably in their room. It should be able to sit on a shelf or fit in a drawer. Things like books, puzzles, photo albums, movies, and music can all make great gifts. If you really want to buy Grandpa a fishing pole, consider keeping it at your house.

Also, consider the weight and difficulty of handling larger objects. Your elderly grandfather may have loved bowling while you were growing up, but he may no longer be able to pick up a 20-pound ball and sling it across a bowling alley!

2.    Make It Useful

The memory care facility will provide your loved one with most of their basic needs. You don’t, for example, need to buy your mom a crock pot. All her meals are already provided! Also, she may not be able to do all of her old hobbies. For example, the sewing machine is a nice thought, but Mom may no longer have the dexterity to use it well! There are plenty of useful things that you can buy your loved one. Some of the best gifts are clothes, inexpensive jewelry, and a bottle of your loved one’s favorite shampoo, body wash, perfume, or cologne.

3.    Keep It Simple

As mentioned above, books, puzzles, and games make great gifts for a loved one who lives in a memory care facility. They are small, provide lots of fun, and can be shared with the other residents if your loved one desires. When picking out these items, keep in mind that your loved one may no longer be able to enjoy complex challenges. The nature of Alzheimer’s and dementia makes it difficult for individuals to focus for long periods of time or to complete complex puzzles.

Instead of getting Dad a 1,500-piece jigsaw puzzle, consider getting him a 500-piece puzzle instead. Choose less complex board games and simpler books, like cozy mysteries or tantalizing romances.

4.    Sweets in Moderation

Food can also be a good gift, but moderation is a smart rule to follow. We all love sweets, like cookies, brownies, and pie. Making something in your own kitchen for your family member is a thoughtful act that your loved one will surely appreciate. Just be aware that older adults often require less food than you may imagine and that those with Alzheimer’s sometimes have difficulty with portion control and balanced eating. For example, they may be more than happy to gobble up your whole pie in a single sitting, which can throw off their eating schedule and even cause digestion and stomach issues.

We recommend that if you want to give food to your loved one that you bring single portions. Maybe only one or two brownies or cookies at the most, or a single slice of pie. If you’d like to make a full meal, contact the care facility in advance, and they will probably be happy to arrange a private dining experience for you.

5.    Gifts from the Heart

The best gift you can give your loved one this holiday season doesn’t need to have a price tag. In fact, gifts from the heart are often the best received and most loved gifts. Just visiting your loved one and bringing their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren can be the best gift they receive all year. So can photo albums you put together or recordings of recitals, graduation ceremonies, or just normal scenes of your family. Our residents want to stay connected with their families and keep up with all the changes happening in your lives.

Make this a wonderful holiday by spending time with them sharing photos, telling stories, and showing videos. It won’t cost you a dime, but it will mean so much to your family member!

If you aren’t sure what is or is not an appropriate gift for your loved one, call their memory care facility and ask. Our care providers interact with your family member every day, and we can tell you what things they like to do and what level of difficulty is appropriate for games, puzzles, and books.

If you are a caregiver struggling with caring for your loved one, we would like to invite you to our monthly caregiver support group at our facility in Poway. It is free and open to the public, so come visit us and share your troubles with other understanding caregivers!


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