The 10 Best Gifts for People with Dementia of 2020

These creative gifts are perfect for your loved one with memory loss

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Holiday shopping for your loved ones can be extremely difficult, especially if your friend or family member suffers from the memory disorder dementia. However, according to Carolyn Fredericks, MD, a Yale Medicine neurologist, specializing in memory disorders, choosing the right gift just takes a little more thought and creativity. 

Dr. Fredericks explains that there are a bunch of different gift options you should consider. The first? Anything to keep their body active. “As winter approaches and it’s harder to exercise outside, how about a recumbent bike or other home exercise equipment? We know that regular exercise can help prevent dementia in older adults, including those with mild cognitive impairment,” she explains. “There’s even some evidence that people with dementia may be able to keep doing their daily activities longer if they exercise regularly.”

Any type of gift that involves photos or memories is another great option. “People with more advanced dementia may not remember names and details, but feelings stick with them,” she points out. “A photo book full of happy memories will likely make them smile, even if they can’t name everyone in their photosor consider a beautiful coffee table book featuring photos of a favorite travel destination of theirs.” 

Also consider gifts that entertain. “Light-hearted movies that make them laugh are a great choice. Music that reminds them of old times can also be a great source of happiness (or tickets to online performances!). My grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, was a lifelong opera fan, and even near the end of her life, playing Verdi would make her light up with joy,” she says. 

Gifts that can help someone with dementia express their creativity can also be a wonderful choice. Adult coloring books, markers, colored pencils, and simple crafting materials can bring hours of creative fun during the winter months.

Keep in mind that there is no better gift for someone with dementia than time. “During this difficult and isolated time, it can be hard or unsafe to come together with our loved ones in person. If you are lucky enough to be able to be with your loved one with dementia in person, spending time together over the holidays can be better than any material gift,” she points out. “Cook a favorite meal or bake a holiday treat together, with your loved one helping to whatever extent he or she can. Pop some popcorn and watch a movie, listen to music togetherbetter yet, get up and dance!”

If you're looking for a little inspiration when shopping for your loved one with dementia, we recommend taking a look at the following.

Our Top Picks

Skylight Smart Calendar

Skylight Calendar
Courtesy of Skylight.

It can be incredibly frustrating for someone with memory loss to keep track of important dates and appointments. This smart calendar will help make their daily life a little easier, keeping all of their important information in one place. It’s incredibly easy to use, featuring a touch screen display and a connected app, which you can help out with. For example, add family birthdays, anniversaries, and important events. You can also email calendar additions straight to the device. They can also keep chore lists, grocery lists, and meal planners on it. In other words, it keeps track of their daily duties just in case they can’t.

Custom Pet Portraits

West and Willow Custom Pet Portraits
Courtesy of West and Willow.

Some of our best memories come in the form of fury friends. Whether they are a current or past pet owner, a custom pet portrait will keep them surrounded by puppy love 24/7 and remind them of great memories. Gift your loved one with the most gorgeous custom, gallery-quality pet art for a surprisingly reasonable cost. All you need to do is submit a few photos of the cat or dog in question and soon after you will receive your work of art, printed on gallery-quality paper and framed in the color of your choice.

HomeoLux BEACON40 Light Kits

This gadget from HomeoLux, a company co-founded by Terry Moore in 2018 after his wife’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, uses cutting edge technology to promote brain health by improving mental acuity, memory, and attention. BEACON40 is a non-invasive method of stimulating the brain's activity and revitalizing healthy gamma rhythms by delivering pulses of light at 40 Hzall while the user goes about their daily activities. They can choose light duration, color tone, and brightness easily via a dial on the remote control.

Brookstone PhotoShare Smart Digital Frame

Digital photos are another great way to keep your loved one stimulated, entertained, and surrounded by love. Brookstone PhotoShare Smart Digital Frame is a photo-sharing digital frame that makes it incredibly simple to instantly send photos to otherseven if they aren’t tech-savvy. After setting up the frame and connecting it to WiFi, just download the free PhotoShare Frame app (available for iOS and Android), where you can easily upload your photos and share them with people in your network. You can also send them via Facebook or email. So, once you set their frame up, they won’t have to do anything but wait for you to share life as it happens.

Artifact Uprising Softcover Photo Album

Artifact uprising Softcover Photo Books
Courtesy of Artifact Uprising.

Artifact Uprising offers some of the most gorgeous personalized photo prints, books, and keepsakes. Their Softcover Photo Albums are the perfect stocking stuffer or giftdepending on the size of book you chooseto store all their favorite memories. Ranging in size from 5x5 to 10x10, all you need to do is choose your photos, upload them, and place them where you want them. Soon after you will receive your photobook, sure to put a smile on anyone’s face! These customized memory books are a cost effective and thoughtful option.

Color Your Mind: A Coloring Book for Those with Alzheimer’s and the People Who Love Them

Journalist Maria Shriver has been an advocate for Alzheimer's awareness after her father battled the disease. She created an adult coloring book to offer an outlet for those suffering from memory loss to channel their creativity and self-expression. It’s the perfect gift or stocking stuffer, as it will provide hours of brain-stimulating activity while letting them channel their creativity. Add a pack of pens or markers to complete the gift.

Paper Culture Personalized Memory Game

Paper Culture Memory Game
Courtesy of Paper Culture.

Memory games are scientifically proven to ward off dementia. We love the concept of this personalized memory game courtesy of Paper Culture. Unlike other “concentration” games, when your loved one flips over one of these triple thick, 100 percent recycled paper cards, they will be delighted to find photos of all their favorite people on one side and patterns of your choice on the other. They are incredibly easy to create, with the brand’s free online tools and filters. Each game comes with 16 pairs of game pieces in the shape of circles as well as a fun keepsake circular tube to store them in.

NordicTrack T Series Treadmill

As Dr. Fredericks noted, exercise is a great way to keep dementia at bay while providing physical and mental stimulation. While there's a lot of smart workout equipment on the market, you might want to consider shying away from anything that might be overstimulating, as it could be frustrating and difficult to operate for someone suffering from dementia. This incredibly highly rated treadmill from NordicTrack is one of the easiest treadmills to operate, allowing them options to increase or decrease speed as well as incline, and offering multiple types of workouts with the touch of a button.

1-800-Flowers.com Snake Plant

Snake Plant
Courtesy of 1800 Flowers.

Gifting your loved one with memory loss a plant will not only liven up their living space, but may also help promote their health. Multiple studies have found that plants can reduce stress (even in hospital environments), sharpen attention, aid in recovery from illness, and even boost productivity.    This Snake Plant (aka sansevieria), will arrive planted in a minimalist white pot, and is the perfect green gift for someone who has trouble with their memory, as it is incredibly easy to care for.

Amazon Echo Show

Amazon Echo Show
Courtesy of Amazon.

Dr. Fredericks mentioned, anything that can trigger their memoriestheir favorite music, movies, or just the voices of loved onesis a great gift idea for someone with dementia. This multitasking smart home device is Alexa enabled, so once set up will be easy for them to use with just their voice. It has a large screen, allowing them to watch their favorite movies or YouTube videos, communicate with their friends and family via Alexa, listen to their favorite music or an audiobook, check the news, create lists, and even set reminders. If you do decide to wrap one up, make sure to put in the extra love and help set it up.

Final Verdict

When shopping for a loved one with dementia, consider gifts that can assist in their day-to-day routines, like the Amazon Echo Show. Gifts that remind one of happy memories are a great option as well—and a photo book, like this one from Artifact Uprising, can a perfect way to help someone bring back fond memories.

What to Look for in a Gift for Someone With Dementia

Lifestyle assistance: As Dr. Fredericks mentioned, giving your loved one a gift that can make their day-to-day routine a little easier is a great option. Gifts like interactive calendars and planners can help those with memory loss feel a little more control over their life.

Memory triggering: Remind your loved one of all the happy memories you've shared through a gift that does just that. Whether it's a painting of a pet or a family photo album, these kinds of gifts can be the perfect way to put a smile on someone's face this year.

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As an internationally recognized health writer and product guru, Leah Groth understands that nobody wants to waste their time or money on products that fail to rear results. Over the years, she has interviewed the world's top health experts and reviewed hundreds of items, to help readers like you discover the most effective health gadgets, goops, and aids that will help you look and feel your very best.

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