Helpful Gifts for Persons Living with Dementia symptoms


.This entry is written by Truthful Loving Kindness (yes, that is my full legal name) for publishing at , so PLEASE address any questions or comments to that website, regardless of which website shows these words.  Like some of my other recent blog entries, this one had a lot of suggestions from husband/care-partner.

Many folks start thinking about gift-giving in October and November.  When finding a gift for a person living with dementia, often one of the thoughts is a “helpful” gift.  Of course choosing a “helpful” gift is very dependent on several factors: past interests, preferences, and talents of the person living with dementia, and their current and expected symptoms and Dys-Abilities (so it helps to know which typeS of dementia are involved in personal “dementia-mix” of the person for whom you are buying).

Off-the-Top: i was tech-savvy before dementia symptoms, so One of my most important tools in early-to-mid stages is my iPad. Primary purpose for this purchase of iPad Air was the “Stroke Stabilization” tool with Apple Pencil 2 and “ProCreate” art app; this allows compensation for my tremors, so that i can again do calligraphy and art that i enjoyed in earlier years.  But i also use the iPad in interpersonal connections (both text and video chat with family members and dementia friends, etc), music video, and other art applications such as “Silk”.  When i was stuck on the couch for months this iPad was indispensable.   .
******* iPad Air (mine is 4th generation, and if i need to replace it i might get one that is reconditioned ~$400) >> , but personally i will probably use my iPad for a very long time, and i value the touch-sensitivity which might be decreased if past user had thumped the screen in frustration, dropped it several times, or all the various activities that can create interference with touch-sensitivity.  So my expensive brand-new purchase several years ago was well worth the expense.  i have replaced the $22 protective case, ( >> ) but see no need to replace the iPad until Apple drops support and part-replacement for this product.  As shown below, i use iPad for several purposes. But caution; some folks never adapt to using this type of technology; we bought one for my mother, and she only used it when someone was there with her.  Living in rural town, that did not happen often enough to make it worth the purchase. Plus Mom is very much a moving-outside type of person, and never used technology much..



Even in “Early-Stage”, i quickly lost the ability to use the stove.  To start with i had note on burner “BEFORE starting burner, turn on alarm for remembering to turn the stove off”, but after several years that technique no longer worked.  We thought of a pressure sensitive stove, that would turn off when there was no longer a pot or pan on the burner, but my cooking abilities quickly declined to the point that i could not cook anyway due to tremors, other memory complications, and fine motor control..
******* But other friends are able to stretch their cooking abilities using (~$20) rice-cooker — but make sure it actually turns itself off, and does not just stay warm for days, and (~$40-70) crock pot (which usually have a 4-6-8-hour process then turn themselves off automatically. Again, check and make sure the device actually turns itself off after the process.
******* i got a Vidalia Chop Wizard when tremors began interfering with using sharp knives, altho in many cases you must still cut the food at least in half before placing it on the cutting tool. This one is ~$23 >> .  Husband bought another, since he now does all the cooking..
******* Began forgetting how to use potholders, so One of the things i did to extend my cooking abilities was purchase hand mits (~$23/ea).  Not long after that i gave up on cooking efforts, but these mitts now sit at microwave, so that if my mug or plate is too hot then i can quickly grab a glove or two.  >> ..
******* A couple friends with tremors have extended their cooking abilities by using “mesh” gloves.  These allow cutting of food without cutting hands. They appear to range $10-30.  i dont remember which friends, so i cannot ask which specific type of glove they use.  Here is an example, tho >> .



For ME and several of my dementia friends, dementia symptoms have created need for different types of lighting in our house.  Fortunate in that dementia symptoms had already begun when we were designing this Craftsman-style home, and change in lighting needs were much less intense, but they were beginning.  So we have built-in wall lamps every 8 to 12 feet all thru the home.  As afternoon progresses to evening these wall lamps (with lower-wattage incandescent bulbs) are turned on, creating less shadows as the outside light from our many windows dims, but still over-all lighting with less intensity -which allows for slow conditioning for sleep, but less evening mis-interpretation of visual signals.  By night, all the bright overhead lighting is off, and only the side-lights are on. i avoid TV or strong lighting for about two hours before bed — especially i avoid LED bulbs in those hours.  Lighting can strongly affect our natural melatonin — which triggers sleep.  We only have one fixture with LED (what i call “blue”) bulbs.  Mostly this type of lighting is very irritating for me, but some people with dementia dont seem to have much trouble with it.
******* So if we did not have this built-in side-lighting, then i would need standing floor Lamps and table Lamps, along with the the many Night Lights scattered around the house.  So Lamps and Night Lights might be a gift idea.  Personally i have a special spot in my heart for Octopus, so this is one of my ($30) choices >> ..
******* We lose power frequently in our part of the country, so “emergency” lighting is crucial to my well being (our camping lanterns seem to trigger either illusions or hallucinations, and flashlights intensify my disorientation so i am more likely to trip and fall).  There are many options out there, but we chose “Surge” for emergency light bulbs that come on when the power goes out. (~$80/pack of 4) >> .


Interpersonal Connection:

*******  Travel is increasingly difficult for me.  Cell Phone is increasingly difficult for me.  With my vascular disease and Lewy Body symptoms, tremors are continually intensifying. Not only do tremors interfere with hitting the correct buttons, but even when i try to use my iPhone as a telephone there are problems.  After i get the right buttons, problems with my audio-processing and word finding make phone calls awkward and difficult at best.  So cell-phone is not used much any more. Now i use iPad Air or extra-large computer screen with the “Zoom” program for video chat with my sister or daughter, Peer chat with Dementia Mentors’ members and groups, and DAA (Dementia Action Alliance) groups.  i know that as cognitive symptoms advance i will need someone’s help to connect me into each video “chat”. >> .  i use the paid zoom account so that i can have a default number which family enters to video chat, but there are also free accounts.  i also currently use iPad or computer for FaceBook texting peer groups (and other aspects listed below). . 
******* If i had a technology-savvy friend, they could hood me up for recording short videos to share my personal everyday experiences.  i learned to type early, and was typing for our home business before i was 10 years old, so typing and texting is currently better for me than talking, but i know those abilities are declining, and i am mostly beyond making videos right now, but some of my friends make video on regular basis. 
*******  With my lifelong love affair with written words, this letter-dice project might be good for me, BUT i think with my tremors i would have great difficulty maneuvering the smaller-size dice-letters;  (picture of letter dice saying “poop is not good to eat so flushit” with following remarks on one 14Dec2019 review: “My dad has Alzheimers and this little can of alphabets has been great. He will sit for hours and make up sentences like this one. The first day I got it for him this is what he spelled “Aware and scared to be me“. It brought me to tears. He’s in there. He has been expressing a lot of things with these letters. He tries to use all the letters in one sentence. He has come up with lots of cool stuff. My mom is in a skilled nursing facility and my dad spends the day visiting her and asks all day over and over when is she coming home. This helps occupy his mind. Totally worth every penny.”  …  i think for myself (Truthful Kindness) i would probably suggest several sets of this larger-sized variety of the idea (at ~$7/set) >> .


Memory Reminders:

  *******  Quite a few of my friends appreciate “Alexa” or “Echo” (especially those who still live alone), but for ME, my sound processing is distorted, and i also have aphasia-type symptoms, so those sound-based technologies do not work well for me.
******* Finding things: Several of my friends really value their Apple “Air Tag”.  They use them on many different items, but the problem is remembering to renew the batteries. >> and (asked Jennifer Bute for the other Link 13Nov2022) . 
*******  My friend Tommy Dunne has been helpful in developing memory technology designed for People Living with Dementia >> .. 
*******  Personally, i have problems with digital clocks, and i am losing ability to predictably be able to read the analog clock, but there are clocks with ability to record message for each alarm set, which could be helpful for some persons living with dementia. The ones i have seen are digital clocks ~$50.  Here is an example >> .


Where is my husband/care-partner ? :

******* On request, my Service Dog brings husband to me.  When husband is away from the house we have a large (chicken-shaped) chalkboard at the door, for him to write where he went if the car is gone.  But in the last few years it has not worked well for us.  So he took a ($13) 4×6 spiral notecards set, and used large marker to write common places that he might be (our friends Angie & Tom, Bank, Chicken Yard, Dentist, Front Yard, Garage, Groceries, etc) on individual cards, in alphabetical order, with plenty of cards between each written card so that more places can be added as needed.  he clips the corner of cards he has written on, so that he can more easily find which one he needs when leaving.  Flips the notecard spiral so that particular card is on top, and places it wherever i am (desk, couch, etc) when he leaves.  In future we might need to add stickers or graphics, but for now this works well.  >> .
******* My sister made me a tool that i mostly use during travel.  We use a different “Where is my husband” tool when at home, but this is my go-to strategy for travel.  When husband needs to leave me in the car, this roll-up chalkboard (left on the driver’s dashboard or seat) tells me where he went, when he expects to return, and what to do if i need to go potty while he is gone.  One chalkboard stays rolled up in the car door for this purpose, and another is in the travel bag for use while in motel room.  At request, my sister uses solid, or more adult-friendly fabrics for dementia friends (mine are purple, LOL).  >> .


Personal Care

******* By 2021 i was having difficulty with “gadget” usage; many things require complicated simultaneous movements and brushing teeth, brushing hair, and wiping personal areas are some of those fine-movement tasks that i have problems with.  Figured i was still early enough that i could get used-to the vibration of electric toothbrush, but i was never able to adjust.  Now husband has bought me one of the cheaper electronic versions that has round-and-round section on top and then side-to-side section of bristles below.  Stilol unable to use it so husband cut off the lower section of bristles.  Now i need to wear ear plugs, but i can handle the vibration.  He says it was less than $15.. 
******* For brushing hair i got a brush that has a more round head, so i can simply hold the head of brush  with all my fingers (instead of the handle).  i now use this $7 brush and it is working great for me. Husband no longer needs to brush my hair unless there are complications.  You may be able to find a better round-head brush for no-handle use, or cut the handle off and file the edges – but this works for me now. >> .. 

Travel and various Souvenirs or Memory-Markers:

In addition to the above “chalkboard” suggestion, these are related to travel and Memory-Markers
*******  Since travel is so difficult now, someday i would like to try Virtual Reality to “visit” birth-areas for some of my ancestors, because a dementia friend tried it and said it was great. 
*******  i do not travel well now, but have found stuffed animals to be MY best reminder of trips from the past.  i brought home a stuffed toy kookaburra bird that sings his “kookaburra song” from my trip to Australia (very irritating sound, but it does not last long and it makes me smile). Trip to aquarium containing special individual visit with octopus giving me “hickie” kisses — then a large stuffed octopus to remember the trip.  Trip to zoo containing special personalized visit with penguins then a large stuffed penguin to remember the trip.  ((cups break and do not have lids that are secure, photos are less “touchable”, and other souvenirs are less effective for me personally)).   i also have a small SOFT stuffed toy on dash of car, that i end up “petting” when extra-stressed like on the way or return trips to doctor. The home-based stuffed toys sit above my drawers in the bedroom, so that i see and touch them every day.
*******  My father knew that unconditional love is an assumption between father-child, so he often remarked to me, “Did you know i LIKE you?”  When my children came along i often reminded them in turn, “Did you know i like you?”.  One day in the grocery store, there was a 5″ stuffed mouse key fob with a “press me” tummy.  When tummy was pressed he squeaked “i like you. i just plain like you. you make me smile. …”.  Of course daughter bought it and gave it to me.  This mouse hangs by the front door and when grandsons were young  i would press the tummy when they arrived at the house, and they would listen to the mouse.  That mouse reminds my of my father, my daughter, … and grandsons. . .

ART, Crafts and Music:

Crafts and art/Music for Early-stage symptoms:.
******* iPad Air (mine is 4th generation, and if i needed to replace it i would probably get one that is reconditioned ~$400) >> , with Pro-Create art program (~$10), Apple2 pen (~$130), and funds for a couple special “brush” sets. >> , Apple Pencil 2 >> , and although in some creations i have only used default “brushes”, my favorite brush sets are from Alaina Jensen.  i especially appreciate her brush collections with their demonstration videos. >> .
******* Sizzix die-cutting machine (~$90), dies to cut with, and cardstock or scrapbook binder. .  With my tremors this has become very difficult to use unless i use the magnetic plate to help with positioning the dies.  Cannot find what i personally use but this gives the concept (~$35) >> .
******* Lap Harp to help me “change channels” after hallucinations (until i lost the ability to keep it tuned) ~$263 >> ..
******* Audio without video is a problem for me, so mp3 doesnt work for ME, but i often use my iPad Air to watch music video.  My brain’s sound-processing is distorted so it can be difficult to avoid what my brain perceives as “noise” (even some of my best favorites from when i was younger, like big Band sounds from when i learned to dance before we taught ballroom dancing).  But i enjoy many “softer” videos on YouTube, so i have $120 YouTube Premium annual membership, along with  ear buds (for when i need to be able to hear if husband calls me) and headset (for when husband is nearby and can reach out and nudge me, so i do not need the ability to hear sounds other than the music).  >> .
*******  If the person you are finding a gift for does not yet have one, you could buy supplies and help them create a “LifeBook” for them (and if you are member of family make one of your own life that they can keep with them).  “Preserving Memories with a LifeBook” is short video from retired doctor Jennifer Bute (now living with dementia) >> ..
*******  Another hand-made gift could be to take some favorite verses or songs, and help compile scrapbook pages for them.  i plan to do this for myself, creating my own version of “Ideals Publishing Company” type booklets with single page for each of my favorite poems or songs, but so far i never seem to find the time and energy (have enjoyed collecting pictures for them tho, with the different seasons and different topics, LOL).  i know that as my reading ability drops, these will be treasured.  i have collected many pictures for this project at >> .

Crafts and Art/Music for Mid-stage symptoms:.
*******  Access to iPad with Apple2 pen and “Silk” drawing program (some aspects may need help with set-up, but this app is my go-to activity for evening).  >> .  .
*******  YouTube Premium membership ($120/yr) for my music and “atmospheric” videos.  YouTube Premium link is above with early-stage symptoms, but this is my go-to underwater reef video >> .  .
*******  “Ideals” magazines from thrift stores, e-bay, etc.  These combine brief prose with attractive pictures on a one-poem-per-page basis. >> . … and >>  . 
*******  As mentioned above, i can no longer use my lap harp, so husband got me a Tongue drum to help me “change channels” after hallucinations (mine is called a “Hapi” drum and was ~$160). >>  .
*******  supplies for composing cards or scrapbook pages (such as die-cuts, etc) AND someone to help me glue etc due to my extreme tremors.  This could also be a hand-crafted project, with YOU buying the Sizzix and cutting the pieces, then gifting those pieces to your friend or family member on the installment plan, along with card blanks (or index xtock for composing scrapbook page) and some time helping with the glue process (since many of us deal with tremors which can make problems with glue).  See the Sizzix details above in “early-stage” symptoms.

Crafts and Art/Music for Late-Stage symptoms (other than some of the mid-stage suggestions above):. 
*******  One dementia friend uses these (or something similar) with her later-stage friends, during their peer-group gatherings: .



******* i VERY much appreciate “touchable” larger crib-sized lap-blankets  (but each person has different preferences for textures and sizes they most appreciate). Some folks enjoy the “weighted” variety of lap blanket . 
*******  i dont need it because i have a care-partner who can oversee care for my (real) animal, but a couple friends enjoy those “robot” animals.  It has been mentioned that purr-therapy might be helpful for late stages; and .. 
*******  A couple of my dementia friends have entered the “doll-therapy” issue: “Doll-Babies” by retired doctor Jennifer Bute at ; and “Dolls” short video by Janice Crich at ;


Further suggestions:

Laurie Scherrer has listing of potential gifts at .  i would love to hear additional examples.


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Tags: alzheimers, dementia, gift, person with dementia, PLwD, symptoms, strategy.  S&S categ: gift, . Registered & Protected .


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