Looking for Christmas gift ideas for a loved one living with dementia or Alzheimer’s? Or perhaps you’re looking for creative ways to use some unspent funds in your Home Care Package?
We asked our team of carers and experts to share their favourite products and services they’ve personally used with their loved ones. And we think you’ll like what they came up with!
We’ve specifically focused on gifts to:
- Reduce isolation
- Inspire empathy
- Increase safety
- Create connection
- Empower independence
- Offer comfort and reminiscence therapy
We also asked our team to share their experience with some of the latest technology in dementia care. If you’ve never heard of ‘intelligent hydration systems’, you’re in for a treat!
Aqua Paint – Art and reminiscence therapy for dementia patients
Aquapaint is a delightful gift that empowers independence and meaningful activity. The end result of the activity allows the person with dementia to feel they’ve created a beautiful piece of art (which they have!), simply by using water.
And the best part?
Once the painting dries, it fades back to white so it can be used over and over again. Just like magic!
From one of our team:
“I hired an amazing guy to do art therapy with mum, which she absolutely loved! Then one day I arrived and found there was permanent blue paint on her taps and all over the place. I guess she decided to paint the town (aka her house) blue! Yikes!”
With Aquapaint, you’ll have peace of mind knowing both your loved one, their home, or their care facility, won’t end up being creatively redecorated!
My Word – Meaningful story boards that create connection for dementia carers
Watching a loved one with dementia slip away one memory at a time, can feel devastating. And many family carers go to extraordinary lengths to try and help their loved ones connect with familiar memories.
But what happens when the person living with dementia needs paid carers? Or full time residential care? Their unique story is often lost…
…This is where my word comes in.
As founder Danielle Stewart asks:
“How can you truly care for someone you don’t know? Carers are so busy, with so many tasks to complete every day that the actual ‘care’ side of getting to know their clients can get lost.”
Her own grandfather was constantly being wheeled out to participate in activities he hated – which caused him to act up! If staff had a way of knowing his likes and dislikes, it would have been so much less stressful.
Carers on our team here at Lumin, can totally relate to the stress caused by health care professionals not knowing how ‘relate’ to their loved ones likes and dislikes.
“Displaying pics of my mum when she was younger, helps staff to connect and realise she wasn’t always old and agitated. She was young once too!”
My Word creates unique storyboards that inspire empathy, spark meaningful conversation, highlight likes and dislikes and encourage carers to see the person, rather than the disease. They help you capture your loved ones story in a fun, engaging and impactful way.
And we think you’ll agree, the storyboards are absolutely stunning!
Price: $550.00 (Cost can be covered by Home Care Packages)
Find My Word: here
Dementia journey: Early – mid – late
Introducing Lively – Technology help, social support and companionship
Many people might not have thought about technology help for someone living with dementia, as it can sound like it might be too complicated.
But here’s why Lively’s service is unique…
Although they offer to help elderly people navigate the online world and digitalise and preserve family photos, their one on one in-home companionship with a trained Lively worker is what really sets them apart.
As founder Anna Donaldson says:
“Lively brings young and older people together, to help each other out.”
Check out the wonderful “Tech, tea and tales” video, showing young jobseekers teaching older people about technology. As well as recording their life stories.
As well as the benefits of social connection and reducing isolation, Lively’s workers can also offer fun technology activities, like:
- Music and memory playlists
- Reminiscence therapy via photo albums
- Using dementia friendly apps
- Exploring art and history
- Staying safe online
- Watching Youtube
- Using Facebook
One other activity that is fast becoming a Lively hit, is using Google Earth to visit places people used to live and enjoy.
Anna’s passion is to create meaningful work opportunities for young job seekers (18-25), spending time with older people and helping them learn how to use technology to stay connected.
“Young people who are just like grandkids, but with more time and patience!”
Lively operates mainly in Melbourne and has recently expanded to Brisbane. Enquiries are welcome from other states, but may require time to recruit the right person to match your loved one’s needs.
Arthur Bear – The musical teddy bear for dementia reminiscence therapy
Ok so we have Arthur Bear in our office right now and without a doubt, he’s simply adorable! Soft, cuddly and very well made.
But Arthur is no ordinary bear…
He has a built in MP3 player, perfect for uploading your loved ones favourite playlists! Simply squeeze his paw and your reminiscence therapy begins.
Which is what makes Arthur bear a perfect gift for reducing agitation and providing comfort for people living with dementia.
As dementia training Australia states:
“Research and experience shows that access to personalised musical favourites benefits most people. It is now one of the most adopted, non-pharmacological interventions improving the lives of people with Parkinson’s, depression, behavioural challenges and pain.”
Check out the amazing success Music & Memory Australia is having using music therapy to reduce agitation during hospital stays in the video below.
Although Sean was seen dancing with wireless headsets, someone with more advanced dementia could easily be provided joy and comfort (with Arthur the musical teddy) from their hospital bed.
Arthur bear’s capacity is 4GB or nearly 1000 songs! That’s lotsa playlists!
Price: $180.00 (Cost can be covered by Home Care Packages)
Find Arthur bear: here
Dementia journey: Mid – late
Lumin simplified tablet for seniors + dementia phone, remote calendar and clock
Like a tablet, Unlike any tablet. Lumin is a perfect gift for loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
One of the unique challenges Lumin set out to solve, was a way for people living with dementia to feel more independent and in control of their lives. We also wanted to reduce the burden family members who were caring from a distance, told us they were experiencing.
After extensive consultation with carers, experts and researchers, we learnt that using the phone became increasingly confusing for people living with dementia. Which in turn can lead to an increase in isolation.
So we created a simplified, version of our tablet screen…
Lumin One Touch is so simple to use, your loved one can finally make one-touch phone and video calls, share photos and enjoy fun apps (all via our large 17″ freestanding simplified touch screen, delivered set up and ready to go!).
Lumin can be customised to include only the features you choose, to make the screen a delightful experience for your loved one.
For example, as well as the phone and calendar reminder options, you might want to include ‘one touch’ radio stations for their screen. An ongoing research project by a Melbourne Uni music psychologist, shows the potential of radio for reducing loneliness and isolation.
Imagine being able to send reminders to your loved one, no matter where you are?
One of the other huge benefits included with Lumin, is the free companion app. Whether it’s medication or appointment reminders, or your latest meaningful pics, the app has you covered!
Oh, and since the Lumin screen is remotely managed and updated, there are zero tech headaches for family and carers!
Price: $150.00 set up + subscriptions starting at $46.00 per month. (Cost can be covered by Home Care Packages)
Find Lumin: here
Dementia journey: Early – mid
Droplet – The smart mug that tackles dehydration in seniors
Although all of us have experienced dehydration at some stage, older people are particularly vulnerable due to a reduced sensation of thirst. This risk is even higher for people with dementia and people who have mobility issues or have suffered a stroke.
Dehydration has been shown to increase fall risk in older adults. And with falls being the leading cause of hospitalisation in people over 65 in Australia, many people may not be aware of how much water they should be drinking to reduce their risk.
Enter Droplet – the intelligent hydration system…
A dementia friendly hydration system, developed in partnership with over 100 healthcare professionals.
If you care for someone living with dementia, you’ve no doubt faced the challenge of not knowing when they last drank some water. Especially when you can’t always be there. During trials, Droplet increased the average daily fluid intake by 60%.
- Family or carers can record their voice for personalised reminders.
- Base glows at night to make it easy to find.
- It’s dignified and dementia friendly.
- Droplet cup is easy to grip and hold.
Price: Approximately $80.00 (Cost can be covered by Home Care Packages)
Find Droplet: here
Dementia journey: Early – mid – late
Inessence aromatherapy vaporisers to reduce agitation
We know you want one, that’s a given! You could easily check off half the people on your Christmas shopping list with one of these. With oh soo many choices, they’re a stylish addition to any home.
But did you know about the benefits of essential oils for people with dementia?
From increasing appetite, to enhancing memory and restoring calm. Not to mention how uplifting a beautifully scented mist in the air feels for everyone else in the room!
A study on the “Effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” revealed patients showed significant improvement in personal orientation related to cognitive function after therapy, using two specific morning and afternoon aromatherapy blends.
The wonderful team at Auroma were kind enough to share the two specific blends used in the study above:
- Morning: Lemon and Spanish rosemary – to relieve depression and heighten concentration and memory.
- Afternoon: Lavender and orange- to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and restore calm.
Speaking of Auroma, they offer one of the largest ranges of essential oils in Australia at wholesale prices. Their 100ml bottles make using aromatherapy, much more affordable.
Although there are a kazillion options when it comes to essential oil vaporisers, we chose the Inessence IE as our fav because it has a run time of up to 10 hours.
“One of the first things I’d do when I visited mum, was get her aromatherapy vaporiser going. Mum loved it and the staff would always comment on the lovely scent! But I really wanted it to continue working for hours after I left.”
Price: $89.95 (Cost can be covered by Home Care Packages)
Find the Inessence IE vaporiser: here
Dementia journey: Early – mid – late
Amazon Echo – Music and memory therapy for dementia
If you don’t already own an Amazon Echo, it’s more than likely someone you know does. Maybe you even have one on your own Christmas shopping or wish list.
But have you thought about the benefits of a voice activated device for a loved one with dementia?
Although soo many families already own an Echo, when you explain the benefits for the person living with dementia, they have a light bulb moment!
Firstly, it’s voice activated, which is a huge benefit for people with dexterity and mobility issues. Alexa also never becomes emotional or frustrated when asked the same question multiple times per hour. There are soo many benefits to voice activated technology, we could dedicate an entire post on this!
But there is one Echo benefit that brings more joy to people with dementia than anything else…
… It’s the benefit of music and memory playlists.
Research shows that music awakens part of the brain not impacted by dementia
There are soo many stories of dementia patients who were no longer responsive to conversation, suddenly ‘coming alive’ upon hearing their favourite music.
Watch the inspiring video below where Henry goes from being completely unresponsive, to being able to engage in conversation!
As Australian Director of Music & Memory, Melanie Karajas say’s in her heartfelt comment below:
“Nothing has moved me to action like the ‘Henry‘ clip from Alive Inside. His reaction after hearing his favourite music was incredible, like someone switched the lights on after years in the dark. Guiding organisations in Australia to create and sustain successful Music & Memory programs is truly my hearts’ work.
The benefit it brings not only to participants, but also staff and families is game-changing. With so much data now proving the impact of personalised music, we can no longer ask the question ‘does this work?’. The question is now, when are we putting it in place?”
Watch the full version of the heartwarming Alive Inside documentary, which follows numerous visionaries in healthcare, who demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self, to those suffering from it.
The other huge benefit of voice activated technology, is its simplicity for professional carers to use. Whether the person living with dementia is at home or in an aged care facility, it’s pretty easy for carers to say: “Hey Alexa, play Mary’s 1960’s playlist.”
Bonus tip: When creating playlists, focus on music that was popular when your loved one was between 15-25 years old, when important life memories were being formed.
Price: $79.00 – $149.00 (Cost, including an Amazon music subscription can be covered by Home Care Packages)
Find Amazon Echo’s: here
Dementia journey: Early – mid – late
Bonus gift: As a lovely gesture to our readers, Music & Memory Australia Founder (Melanie Karajas) is offering their “Create a Playlist at Home” guide for free. Simply send her a message here.
Well that’s a wrap for our favourite gift ideas for Christmas 2018. We look forward to sharing more unique products and services that come onto the market in 2019 with you next year!
Now it’s over to you…
We can’t wait to hear about your favourite gift ideas for people living with dementia in the comments below.
Oh, and remember to share this post on your social networks to let everyone know about the unique gift ideas you’ve found 🙂