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Holiday gifts for those with memory loss
By Darla Lorenzen

Keeping Warner’s words in mind, choosing the right gift for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia doesn’t have to be challenge. A little knowledge and thoughtful creativity is all you need to find a gift that brings joy, sparks a memory, or even helps create new memories.

While making your list and checking it twice, choose gifts that stimulate the brain, exercise the hands, or excite the senses. Think about what would be meaningful, appropriate and enjoyed by your loved one. Keep in mind the following suggestions:
Photo Albums: Create a personal photo album using pictures of family members and photos from past vacations and celebrations. Add a written description to provide a backstory for each photo. If you can, flip through the album together, reminisce or enjoy making new memories by sharing old stories.

Music and Audio Recordings: Music does more than get our feet tapping. For people with memory loss or cognitive impairment, music can be therapeutic with its calming effect and its ability to engage people and help improve their moods. Download their favorite music or old-time radio programs on an iPod, iPad or smartphone. Record and download messages or stories from family members.

Basket of Books: Give a large photo book that relates to a favorite hobby, sport or other interest. Books with puzzles and other brainteasers, or even adult coloring books are good for the mind and body.

Comfort Clothing: Give soft plush or cashmere blankets; a fluffy bathrobe in a favorite color; comfortable, easy-to-remove sweat suits, knits, wrinkle-free nightgowns and nightshirts; or shoes with Velcro ties.

Aromatherapy: Lavender, peppermint, rosemary and vanilla smell delicious and can have a calming effect. Lotions and sprays are easy to use, but check with their doctor, first.

Bundles of Treats: Bundle together their favorite snacks, foods or teas. Enjoy them together while listening to music or watching a movie.

Make It Simple: Make life easier with helpful gadgets, such as a push-button wrist watch that tells the time out loud; an automated pill dispenser; a one-button radio that can be pre-set to one favorite station and turned on and off with one button; or a picture phone that features photo buttons of family and friends set as the speed dial. For more ideas, check out
The gift of time. Nothing compares to the gift of time. Visit the local museum or attend a musical performance together. Play a board game together as a family or work on a craft, like knitting or painting. Family holidays can get noisy and hectic and that can feel overwhelming for some, so make time to sit quietly for some one-on-one conversations.

What’s most important is to keep up with some of the holiday traditions that are special to your loved one. Make the holiday season special by making new memories!

Darla Lorenzen is Healthcare Administrator at Covenant Village of Turlock, a continuing care retirement community in Turlock, Calif. For more information, visit

or call 877–834-1238.