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Gifts for Elderly People with Dementia/other health issues - Carers UK Forum

Gifts for Elderly People with Dementia/other health issues

For issues specific to caring for someone with dementia.
Christmas is nearly upon us and I've struggled this year to find suitable presents for both my parents. Dad has mid stage dementia and is in a care home, Mum is very frail and underweight, and is sort of wasting away as she has various problems eating solid food. She is doubly incontinent and bedbound, but is comfortable in her nursing home. Neither of them are very active now (Dad struggles to walk with his frame) and they don't have absorbing indoor hobbies, so choosing gifts is tricky.

Today I paid a pre Christmas visit to Dad and gave him some of his presents early as I won't be seeing him on Christmas Day (will visit Mum, can't do both same day for various reasons). I was pleased that he liked these gifts:

Fibre optic lamp (very pretty, battery operated and mostly plastic, so not too breakable)
Liqueur chocs (whisky flavoured, he's an alcoholic but not allowed whisky now)
Small bottle of port (equivalent alcohol to around one pint of strong beer, that he has most days)

Presents under the tree include various books and more miniature bottles of port (would love to give him a full size bottle but he'd down it in one - too risky). Carers have been advised re the booze as best not to give him too much beer on days when he has the port.

Mum is more difficult in a way, as she's so listless and takes little interest in anything now, except watching telly occasionally. She's not interested in reading or puzzles so books are not an option. Can't give her chocolates due to her swallowing problems. I gave her flowers for her birthday a couple of weeks back. So, I've bought her a pretty little twig type LED lamp. Again, battery operated, which is a drawback but hopefully as the bulbs are low energy the batteries should last into the New Year. I've also got her a cute stuffed toy to go on her bed - just something fun to open. I recently bought her a fluffy fake fur bedthrow, which she loves, but apart from these things I've no idea what else I can get her really.

Is anybody else struggling with presents for their elderly parents? It would be good to know which gift choices have been successful for other people with similarly frail parents.
Hi Shewolf,

The presents sound great.

I used to take my Granny growing things e.g. a hyacinth bulb and one of those hour shaped vases, an aramylis that she could watch grow (and are an excellent talking point,) a potted lavender or potted herbs that she could smell too.

At school we have had toy cats and dogs that "breathe," personally I think they are a bit creepy(!) but quite a few of children liked one on their lap to stroke.

Scented play dough is nice to touch, hold or squeeze and roll. You can buy it or could make some seasonal stuff, add glitter and cinnamon or pine fragrance.

Snow globes bring back happy memories as do music boxes. My Grandma loved pretty ornaments and also those (tacky) dancing Christmas characters made her laugh.

Difficult, She Wolf. I found strong strong hand lotion quite good. I could then give mum a hand massage. She also loved those cheap fleece blankets in a variety of colours. Fluffy bed Jackets and a furry hand muff (auto correctjust changed that to handcuffs!) also went down well,

The snow globe idea is a good one. :) Maybe I will get one tomorrow if I see a nice one. I got Dad one a couple of years ago, which you can insert a photo into. Inside it has a lovely photo of Mum when she was young and beautiful, and on the other side a picture of a robin in the snow, so at this time of year that is the festive side.

Anne, fleecy bed jackets are great and Mum has a couple, but I've struggled to find them small enough as she's now a size 6 and shops don't stock much in that size. I've found that clothes for age 12 seem to be a reasonable fit for Mum, but they tend to have pictures or designs on that are obviously for children, so I don't buy them as I don't think she'd be keen on wearing gimmicky kids clothing.

Hand cream, mmmm.... I know she'd never apply it herself, but maybe she'd let someone else rub it in, I'm not sure. I have to clean and cut her nails as she refuses to let the staff do it and they quickly get in a right state as she tends to fiddle with her pad at times. Truth is, I don't like touching her hands unless I'm wearing the disposable gloves, because I KNOW where they've been and it's not nice. :(

Dad really appreciates pot plants and flowers but Mum is a bit indifferent to them. Well, at least she has some presents to open. In truth she'd probably not be bothered if she had no presents, but this will be her last Christmas so I've tried to buy things that will raise a smile, even if she barely looks at them afterwards.
Great gifts.

I buy dad inlaw shower gel pjs socks and vests
My mother also has swallowing problems (she has vascular dementia). So I was surprised when my sister gave her a box of Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffles! Mum was able to 'eat' these. The thin, fairly soft outer chocolate coating gives way to a soft interior (like chocolate sauce).
Ah yes, thanks Amy, I might try those on Mum. I'm also thinking of taking some Baileys in, as she used to like that, many years ago. The Christmas Cake Liquer was a bit too fiery tasting for her I think, as it had a brandy base, but Baileys is very smooth. (Also, no loss if she doesn't want any - it won't last long in our house!)