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How to Buy Gifts & Plan for the Holiday for Your Older Adult with Dementia

For someone with dementia, the holidays can be tough. Learn how to navigate the holidays—including activities and gift giving for the individual with dementia

The holidays are often a time of celebration, family and excitement. But for individuals living with dementia and the caregivers who support them, the holidays can present new challenges.

For an individual living with dementia, the holidays can present physical, mental and emotional factors that may disrupt their day-to-day activities.


Individuals with dementia may have limited mobility and need help getting around. If they are visiting a home or other location that they aren’t familiar with, they may have difficulty with stairs.


Crowds and noisy places can frustrate or overwhelm a person living with dementia. It won’t take much for a celebrated family to drum up the noise levels, even at home. Help individuals with dementia seek out a quiet room of the house if they need a retreat.


Holidays can be an emotional time for anyone, and for a person living with dementia, it’s no exception. If the individual has trouble following conversation or remembering things they may feel confused or upset. Have family members practice patience and give the person enough time to finish his/her thoughts.


Best gifts to give someone living with dementia

Depending on their level and stage of dementia, here are a variety of gifts that will be great to give—and receive for an individual living with dementia.

  1. A soft blanket in their favorite color
  2. An activity book filled with crosswords, wordsearches, etc.
  3. Music CDs
  4. Velcro shoes to make dressing easier
  5. A doll or stuffed animal
  6. Large desk calendars
  7. Photo albums with names next to each photo
  8. Trip to lunch out
  9. Pull over sweatshirts
  10. Activity lap blanket

How to Plan for the Traditional Seasonal Events(Source):

Set Boundaries

Whether you’re hosting in your home or attending parties elsewhere, helping a loved one with dementia can add extra stress to the already stressful season. Set proper boundaries with how many events you and your loved one will attend. It’s okay to not make it to every gathering.

Monitor Sugar Intake

An overindulgence in sweets can lead to behavioral issues for a person with dementia.

Avoid Alcohol

Limit your loved one’s alcohol intake. Alcohol can lead to depression and increase their risk of falling.

Involve them

Depending on what they are able to do, involve them in baking, cooking, wrapping and decorating. Creating new memories together while keeping them productive can be beneficial for both of you.

5 Fun & Appropriate Holiday Activities for Someone with Dementia

1. Create a holiday photo album. Gather photos from past holidays and assemble a photo album as you reflect on past memories and special times together.

2. Listen to holiday music. Select music that is familiar to them. Put some on as you hang ornaments or set the table. Singing old holiday songs may bring them comfort.

3. Watch a feel good holiday movie at home. Pop some popcorn and grab a blanket as you cuddle up watching a classic.

4. Walk the mall before it gets too crowded. Admire the different decorations and holiday displays.

5. Bake and decorate cookies. They can help by measuring ingredients or frosting the cookies. It doesn’t matter if they turn out perfect. What matters is the memories made.

Home Care Tip:

Be on the lookout for seasonal depression from your older adult. Be on the lookout for these symptoms and how to relieve them during the holidays.

Ted Wolfendale

Administrator at Dial-a-Nurse
Mr. Wolfendale is a graduate of Stetson University, and Stetson University School of Law, and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1988. He is admitted to practice in the Middle district of Florida, is an active member of the Florida Health Law section, and Lee County Bar Association.

In 1995 he became Administrator of Dial-a-Nurse nursing agency, the oldest nursing agency in the Southwest Florida succeeding his mother who started the company 37 years ago. He is also President of Nevco, Inc., an educational healthcare training company begun in 1988.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce on various Missions to improve the quality of life around the world by development of supportive healthcare programs. In 2005 he traveled with U.S. officials and addressed the Italian National Government assisting in the creation of Nurse Education mandates for that Country. In 2006 he was invited and spoke with the National Institutes of Continuing Education in Eastern Europe on healthcare education and developmental mandates, and most recently represented the United States at the European Union in Lake Balaton, Hungary in 2011. In 2014 he traveled with the U.S. Department of State to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in an effort to improve caregiver knowledge and training.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with a number of non-profits in contributing and creating curriculum to improve the quality of life in third-world countries since 2001, and notably created a successful program in Odessa, India that has been modeled in other areas of the world. In his backyard, he has worked with local Goodwill Industries to provide curriculum and training to underserved individuals who have obtained employment as a result of educational training. He was the Congressional appointment to the Governor's purple ribbon task force in 2013, and has worked to educate caregivers in all aspects of Alzheimer's training.
Ted Wolfendale