Enhancing Your Newsletter

Finding and writing articles for newsletters can sometimes be difficult.  Sharing ways to
enhance interaction between families and residents can be very  helpful. Here is a
sample article that can be used in most facilities.

Gift Giving and Dementia

The greatest gift you can give Dad this Father’s Day may not be a tie, a card, or even
socks. It is the gift of your attention and time.  Family and friends need to learn to
change their way of thinking and interacting with their loved ones affected by dementia.  
This includes the joy of giving gifts, which can become a challenge.  The answer really
is simple, and  differs a little from the principles that apply to everyone; a gift that
generates a smile is what we all hope for.   There are three keywords regarding gifts for
people with dementia: familiarity, "old faithful" and success.

Familiarity - For someone with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, a gift that is
already familiar to them requires little explanation and is always accompanied by long-
term memories. This alone is a formula for success.

"Old Faithful" suggests that if it worked before, it will work again, i.e., e.g., if Dad liked
the sweatshirt last year, then he'll probably like it again this year; just make it slightly

Success refers to items that can bring success.  Simple, easy-to-understand games, a
plant to take care of, a simple craft item or puzzle you can make together can give both
the gift recipient and the gift-giver a moment of connectedness.

If you can find a present that shares all three of these characteristics, you've hit the ball
out of the park. Also keep in mind, that everyone’s loved one is different and he or she
may be in a different stages of the disease process. But However, there's one more
ingredient and only you are the expert that ingredient is knowing your loved one and
what works best for  him or her.

Here are a few more gift suggestions:

Simple Puzzles - For the puzzle lover, who may no longer be able to assemble the 1000
piece puzzle, consider a puzzle with fewer pieces, such as 12 or 24 pieces, or paste a
family photo on foam poster board and cut this into large pieces for a personal puzzle.
Warm Clothing for Chilly Days and Nights - People in the later stages of dementia may
no longer be able to communicate discomfort, though they may feel the cold just as
much as you or I do. Even in the summer, our folks can become cold because of the air
conditioning. Look for light-weight, fashionably warm materials that are as pretty (or
handsome) as they are functional.

Hobby-related Gifts.  Keep them simple and let the staff know if you would like us to
help them.

Calming Comfort – Bring items that are most familiar and comforting to them -- items
that generate feelings from many years ago, perhaps from their childhood. Ideas
include: soft, tactile stuffed animals and dolls can offer the same warmth and comfort
they did once before. Photo Albums or coffee table books on subjects that interested
them in the past.  These types of gifts require no explanation, and certainly generate
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