Having a loved one in memory care can be overwhelming, especially if you're not close enough to visit often. Care packages with little gifts for your loved one can help you feel connected and make them feel loved, even if they don't always remember everything. Choosing gifts to send depends largely on your loved one's preferences, needs and stage of memory loss. Here are some ideas that work well for most people living in memory care communities.
Photo gifts may help spark some memories or at least help your loved one feel a small sense of familiarity. Printing photos and placing them in a photo album gives your loved one something to hold and flip through, which keeps them engaged. You can also buy a digital photo frame and load it up with lots of photos so they can have a rotating view. Another option is to make a scrapbook with important details, like names, dates and details of the memory, on the page to help remind your loved one of those events.
It's easy to get custom photo gifts made that could also make your loved one feel special. You might have a photo collage printed onto a blanket so they can cuddle with it, or you can have a large photo printed on a canvas that they can hang in their space.
Another way to potentially bring up some memories for your loved one is with a box of meaningful items. This could be photos, souvenirs from trips or important objects from their past. Perhaps you have an old journal they wrote in their youth or some old cards they received from loved ones. Place these items in a wooden box with your loved one's name engraved or painted on it. When they want to reminisce, they can look through the items. It can help them feel connected to the past and stimulate their mind.
Sensory items can be beneficial for people in memory care. Fidget items can be comforting when someone with memory issues feels agitated. You can buy or make things like fidget pads or aprons that have zippers, rings, buttons, rattles, squares of different fabric textures and other sensory items. Weighted blankets can also be comforting for people with memory loss. The weight can have a soothing effect. You can also get weighted stuffed animals that have a similar effect.
Tech gadgets can make life a little easier for a loved one in memory care. They can often help them maintain a little of their independence for longer. Voice assistant devices with video calling options can help you stay connected and allow them to do things like make lists or play music easily. If your loved one has vision issues, you might send them a magnifying device so they can see things clearly. For loved ones who enjoy reading but have difficulty, you might send them a tablet that lets them listen to audiobooks or an e-reader with magnification options for e-books. Other helpful options include phones with large buttons or pictures and digital calendars that automatically update and display the date in a large font. Consider the gadgets that would make your loved one's life easier and more enjoyable.
Sending your loved one entertainment options can help them fight off boredom, and many activities can help support their cognitive abilities. For example, crosswords and word finds help engage their cognitive skills. Puzzles can encourage problem-solving skills and help them work on fine motor skills, which can diminish with age. However, it's important to choose these items based on their current stage. Someone with early-stage memory loss might be able to handle the same crosswords and puzzles they've always done. In more advanced stages, you might need to choose much easier crossword options or puzzles with only a few pieces. Other ideas include movies, CDs, craft kits, devotional books and coloring books.
If your loved one has or had a hobby they loved, consider sending them something that's related. You could send yarn or new knitting needles to a loved one who knits, for instance.
Some hobbies are no longer an option when someone has memory issues. For instance, woodworking can become dangerous for someone with dementia, and planting a full garden is no longer an option when your loved one moves to memory care. However, you might send them something related, such as a book or magazine about woodworking or gardening. Or you could send a simple woodworking kit with a birdhouse or something similar that snaps together easily.
Homemade baked goods can offer a delicious treat for your loved one. If it's a family recipe, it can also add a bit of nostalgia to the package. You can also buy prepackaged foods to make this gift idea easier. Keep any dietary restrictions, such as low-sugar or low-sodium diets, in mind when choosing these treats. Include lots of padding in the package to keep the treats from getting squashed.
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