Everyone loves getting presents and people living with Alzheimer’s are no exception.
I originally learned about the importance of gift giving from my beloved Romanian life partner, Ed. When he put on a new pair of shoes I brought him, he exclaimed, “These are the most beautiful shoes I’ve ever had.”
They weren’t especially beautiful. They were just an ordinary pair of black Dr. Scholl’s with Velcro fasteners. But to him they were special.
Then one day on a whim I bought him a little yellow stuffed chick. I was afraid he would be insulted that I took him a child’s toy.
But I didn’t have to wait long. Soon he held it to his chest, petted it and kissed it. Then he looked at me and said, “Thank you! Thank you so much! I never had such a lovely present in all my life!
More recently the value of giving gifts to people living with Alzheimer’s was reinforced by some of “my ladies” – women I volunteer to visit at a local memory care facility.
One day I took Ethel a small wrapped gift – a decorative note pad with a magnet on the back. When she saw it her whole face lit up.
She was so excited that I was afraid she was going to be disappointed. So 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.
Another “lady” is Ruth. Ruth loves big-band music, so I took her a CD of Glenn Miller. She was ecstatic. It was a true joy to see her so happy.
Here’s a tip: 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 really enjoyed tearing off the wrapping paper.
You should be prepared, however, for a gift to be instantly set aside and subsequently ignored.
You see, people living with Alzheimer’s apparently enjoy seeing and unwrapping a present more than they actually enjoy having it. I think that’s because they immediately forget about it once they’ve opened it.
The gifts bring them joy for a short time and that’s what matters.
Does anyone else have any stories about giving gifts to their loved one?