Spending the Holidays with Those with Dementia
While the holidays are times for good cheer, they can also be quite hectic and stressful. The season of celebration and breaking away from everyday life can be especially difficult for people with dementia and their caregivers.
Proper preparation will help you maintain your sanity and enjoy your family this holiday season. Below are a few useful tips for people spending the holidays with elderly relatives or someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia:
- Ensure that relatives are aware of the changes in a family member before holiday events. Remind guests to introduce themselves if it appears that a loved one is struggling to recognize them.
- Review pictures and talk about those who will be visiting – but also accept that your loved one will forget some things.
- Involve your elderly relative if they would like to assist. Ask for help decorating or setting the table. Involvement may be as simple as keeping you company, or reminiscing, as you prepare for a holiday gathering.
- Ensure that your home is safe for elderly relatives. Read this earlier post for safety tips.
- Be adaptable. Simplify events and try to tailor them to your loved one’s needs and abilities.
- Engage senses. Smelling a favorite dish or hearing a holiday classic may help stimulate a loved one’s memory.
- Simple non-verbal acts, such as smiling and touch, are excellent ways to connect and set the mood with someone with dementia. These signals of comfort and fondness are able to reach parts of the brain that verbal communication cannot.
You cannot prepare for everything, so be flexible and forgiving. Accept that your family and traditions are changing. This could be the year to start a new tradition.
Above all, remember what is really important about the season. Don’t let the busyness and to-do lists keep you from enjoying what you have. It’s the time of year to celebrate and cherish one another. Good company is the greatest gift of all.
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