DIY Gifts from the Heart for Memory Impaired Parents

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Birthday’s, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or any other holiday, important moments are often commemorated with a gift. Finding the right gift for those you love can be a complex task, especially when your loved one is memory impaired. We have a set of guidelines and gift ideas to help you give thoughtful gifts appropriate for their memory stage.


When thinking of what to gift, consider giving gifts that include the five senses or brain stimulation. “Sensory gifts are a particularly good choice for people with severe [memory impairment]. Just remember that no matter how severe the disease or how far progressed, people still need and welcome this stimulation.”


These are a few ways our senses can work to trigger memories:

Smell – A familiar scent can trigger the memory of a happy moment

Sight – Photos or videos of familiar places or moments can trigger emotions from that time

Sound – Familiar songs or voices can help a person recall a time where they enjoyed that sound

Touch – Familiar fabrics or textures can provide a comforting feeling or inspire related memories

Taste – The flavor of familiar fruits, vegetables, meats, spices, etc. can trigger memories linked to sharing these items.


Multi sensory gifts can be used as a loving and healthy way to help memory impaired parents recall memories. Below are four creative gifts you can create for your loved one to engage their senses:


Early Memory Loss Stage

Photo Book

A photo book can be a wonderful way to share fond memories with your loved one and show how much you care. This gift can be considered equal parts therapeutic and enjoyable. In a recent article from photos are an excellent way to reminisce. When creating the photo book “[p]hotos of family, friends, and important life events are always good choices.”


Custom Calendar

A custom calendar “that features special family occasions and family photos,” can help your loved one remember birthday’s, anniversaries or other fond memories and occasions according to writer Caitlin Burm.



Middle to Late Memory Loss Stage     

Memory Box

A memory box holds a compilation of items that your loved one holds dear from photos of great moments to postcards or a personal item. “When a senior who has Alzheimer’s opens a memory box, it can stir thoughts of happy moments in life and give that person something to talk about” as well as “link loved ones to their identity, with keepsakes emphasizing an overall holiday, person or theme that lifts the senior’s spirit,” writes Jennifer Wegerer in 5 Reasons to Make a Memory Box for Alzheimer’s.


A Themed Basket

Create a sensory themed basket with simple enjoyable items like socks, a blanket or a bath robe in your loved one’s favorite color. Include a framed photo or photo collage and “insert the names of the people in the photo,” recommends the Alzheimer’s Association. You can even include scented lotion or a favorite snack as long as it aligns with care instructions from their primary medical care provider.


You don’t have to have a special occasion to share a gift with a loved one. A gift large or small can brighten any day. Keep in mind multi sensory stimulation is great for memory impaired parents and can positively impact memory and cognition.





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