Gift ideas for someone with dementia

by Joy Birch, Chief Operating Officer, Highview Residences

If someone on your holiday shopping list has dementia, here are a few tips on how to find a suitable gift.

Early stage gifts

If the person is in the early stages of dementia, consider gifts that will keep their minds active or that will make life easier for them. Keep in mind that just because a person has dementia doesn’t mean their interests have changed.

• Books and magazines on topics that interest them. If reading has become a problem, try an audio book.
• A personalized music playlist loaded on a music device. Hearing favourite tunes from their past will stimulate memory and increase brain function.
• DVDs of favourite TV shows or movies. If they use a streaming service, you might want to buy them a gift card for that service.
• Personalized scrapbooks or photo albums will help them hold on to memories of significant people and events in their life.
• Puzzles and games are good for stimulating the brain. They might be simple or more challenging, depending upon the person’s cognitive abilities.
• A phone with large numbers and simple features may be easier for them to use than their current multi-feature, cordless phone or cell phone.
• Introduce them to an activity or exercise program that will keep them physically active and socially connected. Offer to go with them the first time or on an ongoing basis.
• Make a gift of your own time. Take them out for coffee, or shopping, or a show. If you live nearby, consider making it a regular date.

Mid-to-later stage gifts

If the person is in the mid-to-later stages of dementia, some gift ideas from the list above can be adapted.

• Books and magazines – Choose shorter stories. Read aloud to the person.
• A personalized music playlist loaded on an iPod – Familiar music can still revive old memories and improve mood, even in the later stages of dementia. Gentle music and calming sounds can have a soothing effect.
• Personalized scrapbooks or photo albums can still be used as a topic of conversation – and thus promote socialization – particularly if names and ages of people in the photos are labeled.

In the more advanced stages of dementia, a person may develop restless hands, particularly if they’re used to doing crafts, working with tools, or playing a musical instrument. At this stage, some of the following gift ideas may be a good choice.

A twiddlemuff is a hand muff with soft bits and pieces attached inside and out that provides an entertaining way for the person to occupy their hands. You can buy one from a specialty store or knit one yourself.
An activity box. For instance, a small toolkit-sized box made up a several small doors with locks that can be latched and unlatched.
A set of PVC tubes with connecting joints. The person can use it to build all sorts of interesting structures.
A lifelike stuffed dog or cat. The person may find this calming, particularly if they’ve owned a pet in the past.

Do you have other questions about supporting someone with dementia? Get in touch with us at We’d be happy to help.