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Make the holidays special for seniors with Alzheimer’s and mobility problems

James Mittelberger, chief medical officer at Center for Elders’ Independence, shares a list of gift ideas for seniors
Make the holidays special for seniors with Alzheimer’s and mobility problems
Photo credit: /  Monkey Business Images

Spending time with family is even more important as people age. The best thing you can give a senior is your time – time to sing together, play a game or simply share a meal.

If you are farther away, plan a video call with them or send them a special gift. If your loved one is dealing with dementia or mobility issues, here are some thoughtful ideas that may make their holiday extra special.

Gifts and ideas for seniors with memory loss
Different parts of our brain age differently, so gifting music and games that keep your loved one’s mind active and trigger sensory memories is always a win.

Find out what kind of music they have loved and send them music from their early life. Sometimes people who have not spoken for months will start singing when they hear music they remember.

Keeping Busy card games: Keeping Busy has an array of different games at a very affordable price that improve cognitive ability in people with Alzheimer’s.
You can find jigsaw puzzles, dominoes and a bingo game, all of them adapted for those afflicted with Alzheimer’s.

Relish memory activity: Sounds and smells trigger memories — for example — childhood by bringing back the scent of fruitcake, the sounds of a home, etc. There are 60 different combinations of sounds and smells that should bring smiles to all those who participate.

Busy board: Having something to do with their hands can keep seniors with dementia engaged. Think of a board with different types of locks (like at this link), clothing that needs to be folded, silverware that needs to be sorted or any other simple task that you need done. Being productive feels good at any age

Relax mat: Sometimes, seniors with Alzheimer’s may become too overwhelmed with their environment and will need quiet. Finding the right way to help them relax and de-stress could be a perfect gift. They can touch different textures and feel light sensory experiences that will help them overcome the anxiety they are feeling. Or move with them to a quiet room and lower the lighting and play soft music. Slowing down will help them be able to take in information at a pace with which they are more comfortable.

Center for Elders’ Independence runs is a provider of PACE in the San Francisco East Bay. We serve over a thousand elders, 50% of who deal with memory loss. It is our honor to serve these seniors and to share our expertise and ideas with you.

Written by James Mittelberger, chief medical officer at Center for Elders’ Independence

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