The Best Sensory Gifts for Dementia Patients for Stimulation and Activity

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

If you're looking for ways to support a loved one with dementia, you may want to search for gifts that will stimulate their senses. These sensory gifts for people with dementia and Alzheimer's will help stimulate mental processing and memory.

sensory gifts for dementia
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Income Disclosure: Product recommendations are based on my personal experience working with seniors. I may earn a commission on items purchased from affiliate links in this guide. Learn More.

Researchers have discovered that sensory stimulation can be tremendously helpful to people with dementia. (1) When you stimulate someone’s sense of sight, touch, taste, hearing, and smell, it can help them to stay mentally present. It’s a way to bring back pleasant memories, enhance communication, and help dementia patients connect with the people around them. (2)

If you want to try sensory stimulation with a loved one, you may want to look at some of the best sensory gifts for dementia patients. These items can be tremendously helpful to anyone that is living with this disease. The right presents could ease symptoms and help your loved one to get more out of life. (3)

Fidget Blankets and Quilts

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Fidget blankets are another fantastic way to keep someone’s hands busy. These soft, lightweight blankets usually offer a wide range of simple, sensory activities. When someone with dementia is focused on activities, feelings of anxiety will subside. Keeping busy with activities could even help to reduce cognitive decline. (5)

A fidget blanket can be an especially thoughtful gift for a senior that’s in a wheelchair or has limited mobility. The weight of the blanket allows someone to keep it firmly in place on a person’s lap while they pull ribbons, play with pockets, or unzip a zipper. This small blanket has a wide range of activities and is easy to keep clean.

I have an entire guide to fidget blankets and quilts for dementia you can read for more info. You can also find lots of unique fidget blankets at Etsy. Click here to see those choices as well.

Relish Water Painting Pack

relish water paint packs

See it at Relish Life

Dementia can leave seniors feeling disconnected from life. In many cases, dementia can make it difficult for people to keep enjoying their favorite hobbies. This kit is a fantastic gift for seniors that are artistically inclined, but can no longer paint.

This set contains five images that are specifically designed to bring back positive memories. Messy paints and steady hands aren’t required. To bring these images to life, all you need is water. If you sit down with a loved one while they’re painting, the image could even spark conversation!

Fidget Boards

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An alternative to a fidget blanket is a fidget board. Just like with blankets, these boards offer all kinds of activities that are designed to engage the hands. When someone with dementia seems agitated, fidget activities can give them something to do. Activities can be a wonderful way to improve social interactions and lift a person’s mood.

While there are plenty of fidget boards to choose from, a travel-sized board may be your best option. That way, you can take the board along on long car rides or pull it out when you’re stuck waiting at the doctor’s office. This compact fidget board from Deep Blue is easy to take from place to place.

RELATED: Things for People With Dementia To Do With Their Hands

Activity Apron

activity apron

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If you want to make sure that your loved one with dementia always has access to fidget activities, you may want to take a look at this wearable collection of fidget activities. The apron has nine activities in total, all of which are designed to improve agility in the hand.

Of course, wearing this apron is completely optional. Seniors can also place the apron across their lap like they would with a fidget blanket. No matter how they choose to play, it’s likely that they’ll find these tactile activities to be highly stimulating.

Speks Geode Magnetic Fidget Sphere

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Another rewarding fidget activity is to give dementia patients a way to build different shapes. The magnetic pieces in this set can be stacked or snapped together in over 100 different ways. From a sphere to a tower, the pieces can be molded into all kinds of structures. You can even shake the pieces in your hands and watch them come together.

A lot of building activities can be frustrating for elderly adults with dementia, but these magnets are specifically designed to be stress-free. Since the pieces are magnetic, it’s never hard to put a piece into place. When your loved one is ready to create something new, they can just pull the pieces apart with their hands.

Small Jigsaw Puzzle Packs

See them at Relish Life

Puzzles are an activity that people of all ages can enjoy. For many, working on a jigsaw puzzle is a way to relax at the end of a long day. Dementia patients that enjoy puzzles can’t always complete the large, complex parties that they put together in the past, but there are plenty of smaller puzzles that they can enjoy.

There are even large piece jigsaw puzzles that are specifically designed for those with dementia. These puzzles have special features that make them easier for people with cognitive decline to complete, like color-coded pieces. On top of that, these puzzles have age-appropriate designs that will appeal to seniors.

Playable Art Ball

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This colorful ball is beautiful enough to display, but it can also be a way for seniors with dementia to strengthen their joints while exercising their imagination. The interconnected wood balls are easy to move and can be molded into all sorts of shapes.

Since the wooden balls are all polished, there are no rough edges to worry about. This art ball is even available in different colors. Whether you opt for a bright assortment of rainbow colors or choose balls in pastel shades, this toy is sure to catch and keep your loved one’s attention.

Track Maze Games

relish maze game

See it at Relish Life

It’s common for dementia patients to experience a loss of coordination. This is referred to as apraxia. Dementia can also make it tough to solve simple, everyday problems. A track maze is a way for seniors to work on their coordination and their problem-solving skills at the same time.

Of course, these games aren’t just a way for seniors with dementia to keep their skills sharp. Rolling a marble through a track maze can also be relaxing and entertaining. Even if someone can’t get the marble to the end of a track, they’re sure to have a lot of fun with this easy-to-play game.

RELATED: Meaningful Activities for Seniors with Dementia

Small Sensory Fidget Toys

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Touch-based activities can be comforting to seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s common for people with dementia to have restless hands. (4) You may notice your loved one tugging at their clothing or hair or nervously rubbing their hands together.

Small fidget toys can provide immediate relief to dementia patients with busy hands. Try giving them a collection of small toys that they can easily put in a pocket or a handbag. Whenever their hands start to feel restless, they can reach for a toy that will keep their hands occupied. This bundle of toys is a lovely gift for anyone that’s prone to fidgeting.

Match The Shapes Activity

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The bright tiles in this activity set might seem simple, but they can be used in all kinds of ways. Dementia patients can start out with a small set of tiles and work to sort them by color. Once they can do that, you can bring out more tiles so that they can sort them by color and shape.

By adding more blocks, you can make this activity increasingly complex. Dementia patients can even use the tiles to create a variety of patterns. This is a brain-exercising activity that seniors can enjoy on their own, but it’s also something that you and your loved one can enjoy together.

Recommended Sources for Sensory Gifts

If none of the above suggestions are exactly what you are looking for, check out these sources for additional gift ideas. These sites specialize in serving people with dementia and their caregivers.

  • Relish Life – Formerly known as Active Minds, this company was started after the founder experienced his own grandfather’s journey with Alzheimer’s. The site offers a wide range of activities, arts and crafts, and electronics items for people with dementia.
  • The Alzheimer’s Store – This site was founded by the Barnet family also after their grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. The site evolved from a fundraiser that was created to bring attention to the disease.

Fidget toys and other sensory activities are a simple and effective way to soothe someone with dementia. Sensory play can be a way to redirect someone that’s in distress, and it’s also a way to keep a senior active and engaged. Take a look at the best sensory gifts for dementia patients and see if you can find something your loved one will enjoy.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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