5 Items to Bring to Someone with Dementia

5 items dementia

Some ideas of what to bring when visiting a loved one with dementia

The holidays are over, and January is cold and dark. So if you’re feeling down, just imagine how someone in a nursing home feels. You can help a resident have a nice day or evening, no matter how cognitively impaired he or she is. Here are some suggestions of “Things to Bring” on your next visit.

Bring Photo Albums
Bringing in family photos can brighten a resident’s day. According to Pamela Tabar, Editor in Chief of Long-Term Living Magazine, a nice supplement to photos of a resident’s new grandchild or great-grandchild, is a picture of the child’s parent at the same age. It will give your loved one some much-needed context. “Too often we shower our elders with dozens of family photos at once, without connective prompts they can review later on.” She suggests that all photos be labeled on the back with “the full name and age of the person in it, and add some context for later, such as ‘Eric’s first son at his high school graduation.’”
Ms. Tabar also cautions to avoid showing pictures on your cell phone. In many cases, elders have impaired vision, so photos, at least 5 x 7 in size, are best.

Bring a Boombox and CDs
Make sure the CDs contain the music mom loves. Songs sung by Sinatra, Sammy Davis and Perry Como might not be what you want to hear, but it’s a sure bet that the person you’re visiting will be transported back to a better time in his or her life.

Bring Questions
Ask questions of your dad. Even if you know the answers. Ask him what he did for a living, where he worked, what was his favorite job, and what was his favorite part of that job. Ask your mom about recipes. Pick your favorite one from childhood and have her give you the recipe for it. It doesn’t matter if it’s not quite right. The reason why you’re doing it is.

Bring Your Computer
First make sure that the facility has WiFi. If it does, bring your laptop or tablet and visit websites like the Internet Archive . This and other websites offer full episodes of old radio and TV shows, TV newscasts, and commercials from the 50s and 60s. Your loved one will enjoy it and chances are, you will too.

Bring a Well-Behaved Pet
Contact a local shelter to see if they have a pet therapy program that can be scheduled to come in to the facility, or bring in your own pup, as long as he or she is well-behaved and vaccinated. We all need unconditional love, and dogs are more than willing to give it and receive it.

Next month’s post will offer more ideas of “Things to Bring.”

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About Tobi Schwartz-Cassell

Tobi Schwartz-Cassell is an award-winning writer, and owner of Franks & Beans Communications. She specializes in blogging, email marketing, brochures, web content, feature articles and events. In 2007, Tobi founded Girlfriendz Magazine, a niche publication devoted to Baby Boomer Women. She also co-authored the book “Adding Value to Long-Term Care (Jossey-Bass/Wiley),” and has written numerous articles for long-term care trade journals. She can be reached at [email protected]

6 thoughts on “5 Items to Bring to Someone with Dementia

  1. Jackie Pantaliano

    Wonderful article Tobi! These are such uplifting, thoughtful tips to brighten the day of a loved one with Alzheimer’s. In turn, it will also undoubtedly provide the giver with a needed lift!

  2. Molly Lou Conrad

    I know you brought most of these things to our mother. Tobi, can you expand on how we tried to make sure mom always had music here or in a future article?

  3. Tobi Schwartz-Cassell

    It was fortuitous that I wrote my book “Adding Value to Long-Term Care” when I did. I had no idea that my research would soon make such a positive difference in how you and I were able to care for both of our parents at the end of their lives. In terms of music, I remember you bringing the nursing home’s staff in on your plan to make sure our mom would always have her favorite music playing. As I recall, you asked them to keep an eye on her tape deck when they were able, so that her music would always be playing to soothe her, even while she was asleep.

  4. Mike Good

    Great suggestions, Tobi. I recommend that family, friends, or volunteers understand about the person’s past. Try bringing items that they can relate to and which may stir fond memories. Also, remember just because something isn’t well received today, doesn’t mean it won’t be tomorrow.


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