Debra Sorensen, MSW, CMC, Laurel Felsenfeld, BSN, RN, CRRN, CCM, Mark Felsenfeld, MA, CCCSLP, and Kay Paggi, LPC, CMC, NCGC

Choosing a gift can be difficult, especially for persons with dementia or other disabilities. Families often ask us what would be appropriate gifts to give our clients for the Holidays, so as a helpful resource here are some gift ideas. On behalf of our membership, we have requested special discounts for GCM members.

Gifts to Improve Memory and Cognitive Function: 

  • Crossword Puzzle Books (word search, Sudoku)
  • Hand-held video games such as Solitaire, Bingo (also helps with dexterity)
  • Board games – take time to play , i.e. Tri-ominoes, Tangos, jigsaw puzzles with large pieces, or board games such as Life Stories or Reminisce.
  • Books on Tape or MP3 players (books can be downloaded from the local library for little to no financial outlay) old radio show cassettes that can be played on an inexpensive tape player (Find these at Cracker Barrel)
  • Reminiscence Magazine: 

Gifts for Safety:  

  • Medication compartment boxes, boxes with reminder alarms, alarm watches. E-pill is offering free shipping & handling and free gift for retail orders. Volume discounts (6 or more) and custom imprinting are available for corporate orders 1-800-549-0095
  • Driver’s Safety Classes to find classes in your area. Many automobile insurance companies also have programs—check with agent  
  • • Installing door alarms for wanderers. Available at RadioShack and  
  • Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program (pay the enrollment fee) (800) 272-3900  
  • Emergency Response Systems (Go on-line to find coupons for free installation and discounts)  Motion activated lights for path to bathroom,  
  • An electric tea kettle with automatic shut-off  
  • For those who cannot/will not use a microwave oven: The Euro-Pro toaster oven has a timer control for automatic shut-off and is large enough for meals-on-wheels pans and frozen dinners. Available at most department stores.  
  • Cell phone & air time! Jitterbug offers Samsung® senior friendly models and month-to-month service plans starting at $10 1-866-829-4527 

Gifts for Comfort and Sensory Stimulation (Moderate to severe cognitive impairment): 

Look in catalogs such as Easy Living, Gold Violin, or Solutions for ideas.  

  • Fidget and ‘busy box’ toys: Beyond Play ( will offer a 10% discount for all orders over $50 which are placed by 12/31/08 – mention the promotion code LAU08  
  • Pillows and throws in unusual textures, stuffed animals, and small sculptures  
  • A new bathrobe  
  • ‘Pillow pal’ for something to cuddle that supports aching backs or something uniquely entertaining like a singing stuffed animal.  
  • Potpourri, flameless scented candles/tart warmers and scented bath items–lavender scent is calming for “sundowning”—spray on pillowcase at bedtime or tuck a sachet in nightgown drawer or between linens.  
  • Music box, wind chimes, portable radio or TV, audiotapes, or an audio-clock  
  • Shatter resistant magnifying glass  
  • Creative ceiling decorations for someone living in a small space such as kites, posters, or mobiles.  
  • Buckwheat neck pillow for when sitting in wheelchair or geri-chair  
  • Microwaveable heating pads  
  • Twiddle-Muffs –discount for GCM members  
  • Wheelchair Accessories – backpacks, oxygen carriers, rim covers, brake extensions, trays and seat cushions.  Inexpensive amplifier headset (size of a small cassette player) for those who can’t or won’t use but need a hearing aid.  
  • RadioShack’s Clarity line of telephones designed for hearing enhancement 

Gifts from the Heart — Gifts of Time (that cost little or no money):  

  • Scrapbook  
  • Creating a family memory video  
  • Writing a memoir/personal history – call MemoryKeeper to ask about discount/services. You can even self-publish and print a hardcover version!  
  • Weeding their garden  
  • Planting their flowers  
  • Membership to local science center, zoo, museum (and you taking them!)  
  • Trips to the local library  
  • Enrolling the person in the Library of Congress’ Recorded Books Program for those with impaired vision or fine-motor coordination/strength or downloading MP3 audiobooks to inexpensive MP3 player (available at Wal-Mart, Staples, Target, Kmart) through local library: . Some libraries carry audiobooks pre-loaded onto MP3 players.  
  • Compile family recipes into a book. You can even self-publish and print a hardcover version!  
  • Pre-addressed & stamped family birthday/anniversary cards with the date to mail it written on the envelope flap so that the client can continue to be involved  
  • Personalized Calendars with family photos and birthdates, other special anniversaries (Sam’s Club Photo, Costco,  
  • Jar with decorated lid (or box) filled with pieces of paper, each with a memory involving the elder and you. Open one each visit! 
  • An IOU for a year’s worth of lawn care or 52 car washes from a teenager might be appreciated.  Personalized gifts, such as a deck of cards or jigsaw puzzles using their photo or a favorite grandchild or pet  
  • Large poster of them with a grandchild for their walls  
  • Bird feeder (plus the IOU to keep it filled) would add some interest to their window, and include a book on bird watching or a book or pictures of birds  
  • Storage boxes in bright colors, personalized everything!, clothes, door decorations 

Gifts for the active Senior who has everything:  

  • Frozen steaks, salmon, gourmet dinners  
  • Gourmet tea and coffee  
  • Gift certificate for restaurants  
  • Fruit of the month  
  • Nuts  
  • Fresh kitchen spices (these are expensive on a budget)  
  • Tin of popcorn, microwave popcorn packets, a microwave popcorn popper that actually works: Presto® PowerPop® microwave multi-popper, or a hot air popper (both available at Target) 

Gift certificates for:  

  • Tickets to the movies, theater, zoo, or museum  
  • Stores or shopping malls  
  • Favorite hair salon  
  • Massage, manicure, facial, salon/spa “day of indulgence”  
  • Housecleaning  
  • Subscription to magazines related to their interests  
  • Plants or cut flowers:  
  • Christmas cactus 
  • Ficus  
  • Norfolk pine 
  • Corsage 

Advocare Care Management is your preeminent care manager in Boca Raton. We work with you to get the resources, tools, support, connections, and advice for aging life care for seniors or loved ones. We assist families throughout South Florida including Palm Beach counties. We are available 24 hours a day and will give you the help you need. Contact Advocare Care Management today and let us help you.

Reprinted with permission from Advocare Care Management is the place to go when caring for an aging loved one.