The hypothalamus is the region of the brain that is responsible for putting our daily experiences into memory. The hypothalamus is what is damaged first in Alzheimer's disease. This is why those who are in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's cannot remember the most recent events and experiences in their lives. Since events and experiences from long ago have already been stored into memory, those who have Alzheimer's seem to regress to times that they remember. This is why you may notice your father getting ready for work in the morning even after he's already been retired for a number of years, or you might see your mother wanting to take care of her young children, even though you and your siblings have been adults for some time.
With this understanding in mind, gifts for your parent with Alzheimer's need to be carefully chosen. Confusion in someone with Alzheimer's can lead to frightening behaviors, such as aggression and wandering. Here are a few gift ideas that can help prevent your parent from getting confused.
Gather various photographs of your family and any coworkers or friends your parent had years ago. Ask family members, friends, coworkers, and other loved ones to write short stories either legibly or in print. Create a reminiscence book with these photographs and short stories. It's a good idea to place the photographs and short stories in chronological order on pages that can be removed, such as in a binder. That way, you can remove pages whenever necessary without ruining the rest of the book. Allow your parent to read through the book independently yet while under the watchful eye of a caregiver.
Create a memory box and fill it with various things that will help your parent remember various things in their life. Items that can be considered for a memory box include postcards, souvenirs from favorite vacations, letters, toys that you and your siblings had, and favorite recipes. Sit down with your parent, go through the memory box with them, and prompt them to tell you stories about what they remember and their thoughts. You may find that a particular item stirs a memory in them that they otherwise would not have recalled.
In conclusion, speak with a memory care provider for more ideas on what types of gifts to give to your parent with Alzheimer's that will help bring on fond memories.