When you have a loved one who’s in memory care, a thoughtful gift is always appreciated and can do a lot of good. Because who doesn’t love getting presents? Whether it’s a special occasion or you simply want to present a “just because” gift, here are some practical gift ideas that will go to good use.

Favorite foods

When it comes to memory, the scent and taste of food can be an evocative experience, helping your loved one recall happy occasions with you and other loved ones. Not to mention, something tasty always gives us something fun to look forward to. For the next visit, stop at their favorite restaurant and get their favorite entrée to go. Or, pull out the old cookbook and prepare one of their favorite dishes or desserts as an extra special taste of home. Just be sure to check in ahead of time to make sure your offering won’t disrupt any events, facility health practices or dietary restrictions.

Comfortable clothing

Sweatpants, a cozy cardigan, socks, or a plush pullover keep your loved one toasty warm during the chilly months. Just be sure the size is right, because too-loose clothing can catch on fixtures and furniture or cause a tripping hazard. Pull on shoes — think sturdy house slippers — with traction on the soles are also excellent gifts.

Lotion or hand soap

Aged skin can get dry and brittle, especially during the colder winter months. A tube of unscented lotion can offer much-needed relief for dry skin. Liquid soap for their sink and a bath brush to help them scrub hard to reach places can also make a great personal care gift.

Photo album

Pictures of people they know and love can be useful aids in stimulating memory. Pull out the photo albums and make copies of images from weddings, holidays and other special times together. For easy handling, a smaller sized book is best, one that holds one or two photos per page at most. Also, edit your photo selections around a theme or occasion, making sure you capture a variety of faces.

Objects from the past

Think about the things from your loved one’s past. What did they do for a living, or which hobbies did they pour their passions into? Bring in a physical object they can hold and handle that represents that important thing from the past. As an example, if they farmed, bring in a container of grains and allow them to run their hands through it. Bobbers, balls of yarn, colorful fabric, modeling clay, tools, you’ll provide a concrete tie to the past and maybe even spark a lively conversation during a virtual visit.

Craft supplies

If focusing on the greater good appeals to you, contact the memory care center’s activity director. Ask for a copy of their wish list to keep their supply cabinet full, and bring in a donation of needed supplies. These crafts and other activities are essential to keeping the hands and minds of clients engaged, so your gesture will be deeply appreciated while bettering the days and lives of all the clients.

Simple games

Sending along a game and playing it together over a virtual chat can give the visit structure and rhythm, making it easier for all the generations to enjoy this together time. Stick to games with easy-to-handle pieces and simple rules, like dominos or checkers. Or, if they have a favorite card game, learn the rules ahead of time so you can really make your virtual visit memorable.

When it comes to choosing a thoughtful gift for your loved one in memory care, keep these three things in mind. The first is safety — their health and well-being should be top priority. Another consideration is meaning. If the gift has a connection to something they care about from their past life, you may be surprised by the stories you hear. The third is daily comfort, which covers the things that make it easier to care for themselves, stay warm or pass the time.

Arthur’s Memory Café has gone virtual with Zoom during the pandemic! Please contact our facilitator at lori@alzheimersspeaks.org if you’d like to register to join.