What Can I Get My Grandma With Dementia For Xmas?

chrissy(Maine)December 2, 2005

My Christmas shopping is DONE! Except for this one gift I'm absolutly stumped about! Grandma has dementia and no longer recognizes me. She's in the mid to late phase of the disease. She's in a wonderful nursing home and goes without nothing! They spoil her rotten there. Last year I bought her a nice quilt and stuff. My parents are constantly buying her new PJ's, undies, clothes, slippers etc. She is lacking for nothing in that department. I was just wondering if anyone had any idea's what I could get her for Xmas. Her room is littered with candy, pictures and stuffed animals to the point where the nsg home asked us to stop buying her clothes and decorations! What can I say, the woman was wonderful! Any idea's?

C~

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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hiya Chrissy (long time no 'see'),

If I may be so immodest, I may have just the right thing for ya! What abt some group photos of the family, so you & she or she & others can look at pix together & perhaps try & nudge her memories?

I have no personal experience in this area, so if it might sadden her, then no I guess not a good idea; but have heard/read from others who have similarly afflicted relatives that visual things w/ which to encourage memory can be good. Also, they could either be in albums to peruse, or in inexpensive frames on the walls, so less 'stuff' for the staff to be concerned w/ her accumulating.

(All our elders should be so lucky as to be in homes where the staff spoils them. Your Granny must'a been quite somethin' to have all that stuff & affection lavished on her.)

Karen

    Bookmark   December 2, 2005 at 8:09PM
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ooojen(z4MN)

The family photo sounds like a good idea to me!
My first thought was maybe just giving her some of your time in a visit. It sounds like she's not at a point in her life when material things will mean much to her, but having you spend some time with her might.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2005 at 9:00PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

It doesn't sound as though she needs things, just keep giving her your love even if she doesn't seem to know you, she'll sense it.

My friend moved her MIL with dementia into her home and cared for her there until her death; I know items that felt good to the skin were enjoyed but it sounds like you've covered that (slippers, soft snuggly shawl etc).
"L" had raised several children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and she seemed comforted by holding a soft baby doll when the dementia progressed. And don't forget the power of touch, a nice mildly scented hand lotion and slow hand massage while applying it; it's more time you can give her than things you can buy her....

    Bookmark   December 2, 2005 at 11:15PM
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mrbrownthumb(z5 Chicago)

The pictures sound like a great idea. But I say take it a step further and create a photo album/scrap book. Do you have access to her old pics? You could do something with labels like.

Your Wedding Day
(insert wedding photo)

You in hospital when (Child's Name) Was born
(insert photo)

Your Son's&Daughter
(insert labeled & current photo of each child)

Your Grandchildren
(insert labeled & current photo of each GK)

You could add things like her Driver's License and when she learned to drive, maybe pic of first car or home.Her HS and College Diplomas, if she was part of any volunteer group or social clubs, pics of her friends and pets. Maybe if she saved playbills or ticket stubs add those too. Her favorite movie, pic of the holidays, birthdays, vacations. Basically as much of her life as you could fit in a book that she could look through.

If the photos are family keep sakes you could scan them and keep the originals intact.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2005 at 1:07AM
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Cena(S CA 10A)

Chrissy, you have been missed, girl. How goes the cottage? SO, and the Dogs?

I second the idea of the albums. I don't have much experience with this illness, but often it seems that today and yesterday are a hazy, dim memory, but 30 years ago is like yesterday.

You could take some pictures up, or ask your folks to test drive this. If she gets excited (in a good way) about the photos, perhaps they can include the ones she connected most clearly with. It might help, if she was visually reminded who was who. If it agitates her in a bad way... I have nothing to offer.

If she is not certain who you are, at least she isn't yelling or trying to catch you to switch you! But, that is sad. I am sorry to hear things have progressed this far, but glad to hear she is cooking along, and being looked after so well.

I just got to see both of my Grans, and they are cooking right along, also.

Come see us more often!!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2005 at 2:22AM
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tootswisc(z4/5Wi)

My residents with Alzheimer's disease love to go out for rides and we stop at a drive thru for icecream cones. Ask the staff what really makes your grandmother happy.

We have chidren come in and read from time to time. Some of the chidren books that have beautiful pictures and few words will keep our residents entertained for a while.

If you Gram is non-ambulatory, and not able to be engaged , music or a pleasant video might work.

The latest hit at our house is making Christmas bead necklaces. I should have started this project earlier because it is harder to find green and red beads. You to be careful that she doesn't think the beads are candy. We strung popcorn and cranberries also. That worked out great because everyone could eat while stringing and listening to christmas carols.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2005 at 11:39AM
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theresa6(ILz5)

Maybe some really nice scented bath products, or a visit to a spa where she could get a manicure/pedicure and maybe her hair done? Or, maybe some artistic photo books of something she likes? Just some beautiful pictures to look at.
Good luck,a nd let us decide what you choose!

Theresa

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 9:22PM
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chrissy(Maine)

Thanks for the idea's folks!
The picture book idea has been ongoing since she went into the home. As far as visiting her, this is my first Xams home in 12 years so she's definatly on my list! Food for her may be a problem because she's been trying to eat non-eatable things since this summer. Last time my bro went to visit her she nawed 1/4 way through a bar of soap before he could get it away from her (she got kinda violent with him). We are no longer able to take her out of the home due to violent outbursts and incontinence. However, I did like the idea about tactile stimulation. She can sit for hours and stroke a feather or something soft. I think I'll go with that idea.
Thanks guys!
C~

    Bookmark   December 6, 2005 at 12:54PM
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chrissy(Maine)

Thanks for the idea's folks!
The picture book idea has been ongoing since she went into the home. As far as visiting her, this is my first Xams home in 12 years so she's definatly on my list! Food for her may be a problem because she's been trying to eat non-eatable things since this summer. Last time my bro went to visit her she nawed 1/4 way through a bar of soap before he could get it away from her (she got kinda violent with him). We are no longer able to take her out of the home due to violent outbursts and incontinence. However, I did like the idea about tactile stimulation. She can sit for hours and stroke a feather or something soft. I think I'll go with that idea.
Thanks guys!
C~

    Bookmark   December 6, 2005 at 12:55PM
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breenthumb

Crissy, wish I'd seen this sooner and hope its not too late. When my mom was in NH with Alzheimers I'd visit often. She no longer recognized anyone else when they came to visit much less in pictures. In fact the family in pictures became strangers to her way before she was admitted. And words and reality eluded her so she couldn't carry on a real conversation. But I'll be darned if she didn't light right up and sing along to old songs she remembered from years past, words and all! Same with most of the other residents. If you could possibly tape a few simple upbeat songs to play at first (even jingle bells and Rudolph) and then begin to sing and clap along (especially if a couple more people are involved) it just might be a wonderful part of the visit for you both. And remember, repetition is part of the disease. So the same ones will go a long way. Hope this helps and isn't too late, Enjoy your visit. Sandy

    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 10:03PM
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tootswisc(z4/5Wi)

Sandy-great suggestion. I have created a small space at Kelly House-2 rocking chairs in the dining room. We play christmas music I have a great sing-a-long tape that includes printed words. Some of our really demented people with sing and even follow the written words. It is really fun when I can engage a few people. For the even more demented people, having pleasant music and being calmly festive can be a pleasant change. If your Gram likes to eat things, -give her something pleasant to eat and drink.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 10:12PM
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Nigella(9a-steamy)

Sandy is so right, Chrissy. A recording, and a way for it to be played, of course, of YOU singing songs that she sand to you when you were young would probably be the very best gift of all for her. I sing like a frog with a tin ear but during the final stages of my mother's illness, which lasted 4 years, she never recognized anybody at all but she'd try to sing along with us when we sang the lullabies she sang to us when we were little. My mother was infatuated with spirituals, like Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, but your grandmother may have had a different set of experiences.
I really hope you do this, I think it would mean more to her than anything else.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 10:13PM
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