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Bring Joy to a Person With Alzheimer’s

I volunteer to visit some women with dementia at a local memory care facility. Ethel is one of my “ladies.” One day I took her a small wrapped gift – just a decorative note pad. When she saw the present her whole face lit up.

As she was beginning to unwrap it I told her, “It’s just a small gift, Ethel. It’s no big deal.”

Her response was very touching.

“I know, honey, but it’s a present.”

By that she meant she was happy to get a present no matter what it was. She meant that getting presents is special.

I always wrap the presents, even if they are little things you might not ordinarily wrap, such as a couple of cans of Dr. Pepper I took Ethel. She enjoyed tearing off the wrapping paper more than she enjoyed the soft drinks.

You should be prepared, however, for a gift to be instantly set aside and subsequently ignored. You see, they enjoy seeing and unwrapping a present more than they enjoy having it. I think that’s because they immediately forget about it once they’ve opened it.

The thing to remember is that people with Alzheimer’s live only in the present. If you understand that you won’t be disappointed when they shunt the present aside.  The main thing is to bring them pleasure in the moment and that’s what a wrapped gift usually does.


Note: I have changed the names of all of the women to protect their privacy.

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