Finding The Right Gift

Finding the right gift for a person living with dementia can be…challenging. Will they understand how to use the item? Is it safe? Is it too complicated? Too simple (read: boring)?

See how I sucked the joy right out of gift-giving there?

Gift-giving, as with anything else dementia-related, requires a bit more creativity than may come naturally. But think of it as just another skill you’re soon to master.

I’ve got some specific suggestions for you below, but first a couple of reminders that’ll make it easier for you to come up with your own ideas, too.


Give from The Heart

You know how I’m always going on about how people living with dementia can read our energy in a nanosecond? It’s true with gift-giving, too. Finding the right gift for a person living with dementia becomes much easier when you remember that. Whatever gift you choose, consciously add respect, kindness, and love to the box before wrapping so it pours out when the package is opened.

My grandma Beatrice was a legendary shopper. She shopped for Christmas gifts year-round, had a bedroom dedicated to hiding them, and got positively giddy at Christmas time. There was no one more fun to be around at Christmas time; she embraced every last bit of it, down to wrapping gifts perfectly.

It wasn’t actually about the gifts, of course; it was about what they represented. The whole family together, sharing a meal, and the delight she could evoke by having remembered a casual snippet of conversation back in February and using it later to find the perfect gift.

To this day, any time I see someone delighted about Christmas, I think of my grandma and the joy she radiated this time of year.


Be Who You Really Are

When you show up as Who You Really Are, you give both the gift of yourself and permission to everyone around you to shine brightly in the glow of Who They Really Are, too.


Time Is Irreplaceable

Make future you grateful for how you choose to spend your time now.

A few years ago, I stayed up late to make chocolate chip cookies to put inside a cookie jar for my dad. It was just one of those things I knew he’d really appreciate. I can still see the look on his face when he realized the cookie jar was fully loaded with his favorite. 

I knew it was time well spent as I was doing it; that was reaffirmed a few years later when he died unexpectedly and I’d never have the opportunity to do it again.

Now, on to the gift guide. These are in no particular order; it’s just stuff I happen to like very much. If you have recommendations, please share them in the comments!


For Folks Who…

Need something to do with their hands

 Restless Remedy, headquartered in Salem, OR, makes “fidget quilts and fidget toys that soothe.” Visit their Etsy shop and pick up something that’s ready to ship, or request a custom order. My brother-in-law’s mom made two for my family members (bless her!), and they were a huge hit.

Need a little light on during the night

Consider a lava lamp, star shower projector, or even just plain old glow-in-the-dark stars.

Like books and/or reminiscing

Make a custom book using your own photos. Tell the story of the past year, or a special event, or your family, or….

Need some reminders 

Personalized large wall calendars are fun, functional, and easy to use. For something more portable, there’s also a large print daily reminder book.

Find anxiety relief in the Bible

Spiral-bound, themed, laminated Bible verse books are great for easy reference and small enough to be easily portable. Choose an existing theme or request a custom version.  

I made a very basic version for a client, and he wore it out. He continued to associate positive feelings with it, even when he could no longer read. He just liked holding it in his hand. There’s also inspirational daily readers and audio messages.

Need a creative outlet

Adult coloring books come in various themes. Mandalas are very popular and easy to find right now, too. Some are more intricate than others, so check out the designs before purchasing.

Love dogs

Older adults often don’t have pets any more, either because of their living situation or fear of not being there for the long haul. Add that to the fact that pet therapy is proven to reduce blood pressure, and Canine Companion Visitation is an obvious winner in my book. Chandra and her pooch operate in the greater Portland Metro Area.

Outside the PMA? No problem: “Virtual” therapy dogs are a thing, too!

Need clothing that meets certain needs 

This company is a godsend! I found them years ago when I was a Social Services Director in long-term care. They really do have it all: clothing for people with diabetes, for people who are prone to public disrobing, for people who have limited shoulder mobility, etc. Best of all, the nice people at Buck and Buck are happy to talk to you on the phone and answer all your questions 🙂

Need something that isn’t on this list

Sometimes finding the right gift for a person living with dementia just seems too…specific. You need to look at a bunch of stuff, get ideas, and narrow it down from there. This is where comes in: they’ve got a curated store for your shopping convenience. You still get the convenience of shopping on Amazon, without the very real risk of disappearing down the rabbit hole for several hours!


If you got great gift ideas, please share them in the comments section.

Updated 12/3/17.

Christy Turner is the founder of, creator of the program What To Do When Your Parent or Partner Has Dementia, and a featured blogger on Her segment “Guiding You Through Rough Terrain with The Dementia Sherpa” appears on The Alzheimer’s Podcast every other Tuesday. Christy has enjoyed the privilege of working with 1,123 people living with dementia and their families.