Dear Santa – Or Gift Buyer

By Jane Verity © Dementia Care International

Dear Santa… For Christmas, Please Don’t Bring Me Soap or Socks!

It can be difficult to know what to buy as a special gift for a person with dementia instead of the old standards – like aftershave and socks for the boys, soap and talc for the girls. Here are some innovative present ideas guaranteed to bring joy to both the giver and the receiver.

Compact Calendar Clocks & Day, Date & Time Clocks

Ideal gifts for those in early and middle stages of dementia. Our recommended styles feature old-style clock faces and clearly displayed day and dates. (As this idea carries a larger price tag, we recommend that it could be a combined family present.) Available from Jadco Time.

Bird feeders – Houses

Also seed bells and trays. Stimulate conversation and many hours of enjoyment watching our colourful, native birds. By encouraging the person with dementia to take responsibility in feeding the birds, they will also feel needed and useful. Available through many retail nurseries, florists and department stores.

Outdoor Mobiles

Colourful, twirling, spinning mobiles hung to catch the breeze bring joy and excitement to all ages and stages. Available through major retail garden outlets.

A Colourful Drinking Glass 

Aspecial, personal gift. Did you know research has proven that people with dementia drink more from a red glass and can be encouraged to drink more readily from a red glass too? Available from retail kitchenware outlets.

Little Things that Flash

These can become treasured possessions. Balls that react to touch or clapping (or anything that works on this principle) are highly successful with people in the later stage of dementia because they are something that they can control and have react to their will. Try the LED Magic Spinning Ball which operates at the touch of a button creating spectacular, colourful, flashing fun for everyone. Available from Australian Geographic shops.

Mirror Balls

Hang inside – in front of a window – to catch the sunbeams and send rainbows flashing around the room. Watch every face light up in excitement at the glorious colours and movement.


Another great sun-catcher. Available from various gift shops and department stores.

Magazine Subscription

For ladies and men in the early stages of dementia. What about purchasing a subscription to a magazine suited to their hobby or interest? Choose one that features lots of pictures and fewer articles, guaranteed give many hours of pleasure flicking through the pages.

Dress Jewellery

For ladies in the later stages, try inexpensive dress jewellery from an opportunity shop. Everyone in the family can add an item, building up a treasured collection but one where it will not matter if a piece finds a new home.

Lee Middleton Original Doll

Smiling babies are our number one choice to elicit the most compassionate response from those in the middle and late stages of dementia. Guaranteed to fulfil the innate need to care and to give and receive love. Available from Dolls in the Attic & Bears Phone: (03) 9817 6007.

Touchable Bubbles

delight and amaze because these bubbles do not burst, but land intact on your hand, furniture or in the garden. Suitable for those in the later stages. Non-toxic and suitable for all ages – providing another wonderful intergenerational activity. Available from Australian Geographic shops.

Giant Balloons

in 6 different brilliant colours for people at all stages of dementia, guaranteed to bring smiles and joy to everyone. As Winnie the Pooh said, ‘No one can be uncheered with a balloon.’ Remember you’ll need a balloon pump.

Music Boxes

Pretty or masculine designs – excellent for people at all stages of dementia. Available from gift shops, markets and department stores.


Choose fun and colourful BBQ style aprons for the men and pretty floral, animal or bird designs for the ladies. Available Myer, Outdoor/BBQ shops, House and kitchenware style stores, craft markets and haberdashers.

Basket of Pretty Hand Towels or Face Washers

Featuring printed or embroidered flowers, birds or animals. Fulfill one of the most important Spark of Life 5 Emotional needs, to feel needed and useful, with a gorgeous gift that will work on two levels.People in the later stages of dementia often enjoy tracing their fingers over the patterns and folding the items again and again, satisfying their need to feel needed and useful. Joy in the beauty of the designs also creates conversation and much pleasure.

Key Chains

These are brilliant for men in the later stages because they love to jiggle keys in their pocket, symbolising both security and self-worth. Purchase inexpensive key chains or carabiner locks to clip onto belt loops with a chain attached to hold keys inside the pocket. Available through sporting, camping, stationery shops and department stores.

Another great idea for men in the later stages is a set of large size bolts and nuts in a container. Choose ones that can be screwed into one another by hand without requiring a tool. Available through hardware and building suppliers.