Unfortunately, more than 850,000 people in the UK are currently living with dementia and this figure is expected to rise to one million by 2021. It is heart breaking for many families who watch their relatives suffer with the disorder, and it can be very difficult for someone who receives the diagnosis themselves. However, dementia sufferers can still live happy and fulfilling lives with the right help from carers, friends and family.
If a birthday is around the corner, it can be hard to decide what to buy someone with dementia. Based on the often-restricted abilities of dementia patients and activities that can stimulate the brain, we’ve compiled a list of potential gift ideas:
A music player is an ideal gift for a dementia sufferer, as music can tap into different areas of the brain, perhaps parts that haven’t been affected by dementia. Results of studies involving music and dementia sufferers have discovered that music can have many positive impacts. If you’re struggling to find a playlist that resonates with the individual, try to compile music that they would have been exposed to during the ages of 10 and 25 as psychologists discovered that we gather most memories during this period.
Furthermore, dementia sufferers can forget to use technology that they were once comfortable with or may struggle to learn new things. For this reason, buying them a regular music or CD player might not be helpful and it might go unused. Instead, there are ‘easy-to-use’ music players available where users can simply lift a plastic flap to play their favourite music. Alternatively, an easy radio player allows people to press one-button to activate their preferred radio station.
One great activity for dementia sufferers is gardening. It can bring them a sense of achievement and responsibility over their vegetable seeds and plants. If your relative lives amongst other people, gardening can create a sense of community with the other residents and provide opportunities to build friendships.
As it depends on the individual as to which gardening tasks they’ll be able to carry out, there are a range of simple tasks that can be carried out throughout the year:
- Sowing seeds and pruning shrubs.
- Watering plants.
- Harvesting vegetables.
- Decorating trees or plants for Christmas.
- Feeding the birds and other wildlife.
Buying dementia sufferers a gift that inspires them to get in the garden, could encourage them to take up the hobby and exercise their mind.
The symptom that is most associated with dementia is memory loss. It can be distressing for sufferers when they realise that they have lost some of their memories. This is where photographs can come in valuable. It can encourage conversation from someone who has dementia and seeing memories can bring positive feelings.
Dementia sufferers find that they have to move into full time care eventually. Having photographs in their room allows carers and visitors to pick up the album and talk about who is in the picture and what was happening.
You could also buy a free-standing photo album that can be flipped over, as carers and visitors can change the photo each time they visit. There are also products available where you can record a message for an individual which will play when they open the album.
A Memory Box
A memory box can work in the same way as a photo album, igniting conversation about new topics and recovering memories. Looking through the box can be an enjoyable activity for relatives to do together.
You could try creating the box out of a shoe box or plastic container. You could fill it with; photographs, postcards of places they’ve been, paintings from grandchildren, old coins and many more things. It’ll be something that they can look through at any time to trigger some memories.
It is an emotional struggle when an individual is diagnosed with dementia, but as you can see, there are things that can help. Encourage your loved one to venture into the garden or take up a hobby they might not have done in a while – you can build some more memories together.