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Great Gifts for a Loved One with Dementia

Great Gifts for a Loved One with Dementia

Finding the perfect Christmas gift is hard enough, but when your family member or friend has dementia the challenges to find a great present can seem huge. Alzheimers Wellington has put together a useful list of things to consider when picking a present for someone with dementia.

“One of the main things to think about when choosing a present is what stage of dementia the person is in. Knowing this will help you to figure out the right type of gift to get,” says Anne Schumacher, Chief Executive of Alzheimers Wellington.

“The other thing to keep in mind is what the person enjoyed doing before they were diagnosed, and incorporate this if you can – for example, if they loved golf perhaps you could get a picture book of golf courses around the world and talk through the book together,” she continues.

“Also, never underestimate the gift of spending time together. If you can get grandkids or other family involved, why not do something special like Christmas baking or tree decorating? You could even take some photos at the time, and get these printed and framed as a special gift for Christmas day.”


Helpful products

In the early stages of dementia, there are many useful things available to help with recalling the date and time, and keeping track of contact numbers, appointments and chores.

Suggestions are magnetic notepads, small whiteboards for doors, timers for lights, a perpetual calendar clock, a simple mobile phone, a calendar with large print (you could fill in important dates together), or a big-button universal TV remote.

Puzzles and prompts

A dementia diagnosis doesn’t mean that a person can no longer enjoy puzzles and brainteasers – in fact, often these activities can be helpful in the early stages of dementia. In the middle stages, photo albums or memory books with pictures can prompt discussions about happy times in the past.

Suggestions are puzzles (look for options with bigger pieces), DVDs of favourite movies or TV shows, puzzle books like spot the difference or Sudoku, photo books or photo albums, or a framed photo collage.


Music is a great gift at every stage of the dementia progression. An easy to use music player can help a person with dementia improve their mood, move their body, and access positive memories.

Suggestions include an MP3 device like the Simple Music Player, or CDs.

Sensory gifts

Gifts that soothe and comfort the senses are always appreciated, but are especially nice for someone in the later stages of dementia.

Suggestions include a soft dressing gown or blanket in a favourite colour, a fragrant plant, a bright bunch of flowers, or hand lotion.


Comfortable clothing that is easy to put on and take off and washes well is a lovely practical gift for someone with dementia. Look for softer, stretchy fabrics without little buttons or tricky fasteners.

Suggestions include slip on shoes (or shoes with Velcro instead of laces), wraps or soft jackets, pull-over tops, and elasticated pants.


About Alzheimers Wellington

Alzheimers Wellington is the only dementia specific community organisation providing free services and support to people affected by dementia in the Wellington region.

For people with dementia and their carers, we provide individually-tailored advice, support, and information, support and social/activity groups, and education courses on how to live well with dementia and how to support someone through the progression of dementia. We also provide education and training to businesses, community groups, councils, and the public.

We aim to create a dementia friendly Wellington where people affected by dementia are included as active participants in the community. We help make sure that people in the early stages of dementia can still live full and active lives. We work to remove the stigma of dementia and to support people to live well with dementia.

About dementia in New Zealand

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms that change and damage the brain. The most common symptoms include changes in: memory, thinking, behaviour, personality and emotion.

Currently there are an estimated to 62,000 Kiwis living with dementia in New Zealand, and this number is expected to rise to over 170,000 by 2050. The total cost of dementia to NZ is now around $1.7b and will reach around $5b by 2050.

Anyone can get dementia, but the likelihood increases as people age. Dementia is progressive and cannot be prevented, cured or slowed.

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