Is the ubiquitous Christmas Gift List useful? Let's face it; not every lady would make use of a Cath Kidson gardening set, want the latest Peter Andre CD or get excited to open a 'top of the range' smoothie maker on Christmas morning. However I still find myself drawn to the 'list' and indeed am now embarking on writing my own!
It therefore goes without saying that not everything on this list will suit everyone living with dementia. Circumstances, personal taste, budget, stage of dementia and so on will dictate your final choice of present. I know from experience that some find it tricky to come up with an idea for their loved one, especially an older person, someone living in residential care or especially someone living with dementia so here are a few of my ideas ....
£10 and under
Colouring book - It is now easy to find an adult themed colouring book thanks to the latest trend. Combine this with a pack of coloured pens or pencils.
Bird feeder - Does your loved one look out of a window from their armchair or bed? A bird feeder attracts regular friends and topping it up is a great activity.
MP3 players - can be purchased for as little as £5. Load up an SD memory card with a selection of their favourite tunes.
Memory Box - Take a look at my post on memory boxes. If you have some time to put one together it would make a wonderful personal gift.
Hand lotion - Hand massages or even just to keep hands soft. Choose something with a familiar smell and a little luxury.
Photo frame - Fill a table top or hanging frame with family photos. Choose a simple frame so that it doesn't distract from the photo inside.
Jigsaw - There are some lovely adult themes jigsaws available that have a limited number of large pieces. At £15 they are, as you would hope, good quality and will stand repeated use.
A photo album - Put together a small album of family photographs, each one clearly annotated with names / location etc
Hanging Mobile- For someone who spends their days in their bed the view can sometimes be a little monotonous. A well placed and well chosen mobile can be a lovely distraction. (Be aware that this might not be suitable for someone who experiences visual delusions or visual confusion).
Fiddle cushion / apron / muff - These are readily available and ideal for someone at the latter stages of dementia who enjoy sensory stimulation. If you, or someone you know, is handy with a sewing machine it is a nice sewing project.
Aromatherapy diffuser - Well chosen aromatherapy oils can help to lighten the mood, calm a distressed individual and even stimulate appetite. Aromatherapy diffusers are heatless, flameless and smokeless so ideal where safety is of concern.
Bubble tube - At the later stages of dementia, when sensory stimulation is helpful a bubble tube can be a soothing and stimulating addition. They are available in a large range of sizes and price; the lower end of the price range are perfectly adequate.
Indoor plants - Looking after an indoor plant is a regular meaningful activity. You can choose a plant that suits the room (amount of sun etc) and the amount of care it might receive (i.e.. a cactus almost never needs water!).
Perfume / after shave - If your loved one has always worn perfume or after-shave it is nice to maintain that self care regimen.
A day out - Buying someone an experience as a gift is ideal for someone who 'has everything'. If it is practical to do so why not buy your loved one a voucher for afternoon tea and make it a day out.
£50 and over
Flowers - A monthly delivery of fresh flowers would brighten up any bedroom and arranging them provides a valuable, meaningful activity. At £15 a month it is a more substantial gift but one that will keep giving!
Small fridge - If you have a larger budget; for someone living in residential care there is something quite liberating about having access to you own supply of cold drinks in your own room.