This season, you might ask yourself, “How can I help people with dementia enjoy the holidays?” Managing dementia is difficult on any given day, but add in disruptions to routine, extra visitors, decorations, and noise, and you can understand why the holidays for people with dementia may be a recipe for increased agitation, stress, and discomfort. The key to a pleasurable holiday both for family and those with dementia is based on pre-planning, remaining flexible, and altering expectations.
The Alzheimer’s Association provides some helpful suggestions to make certain those diagnosed with dementia, and those who take care of them, are able to take pleasure in the holiday season to the fullest.
- Bring family and friends up to speed. For those who haven’t spent time recently with your loved one, it is important to ensure they understand what changes they could expect to see. It can be beneficial to send out an email or letter to each person you’ll see over the holidays, with specific details such as, “You may observe that Aunt Beatrice has changed since your last visit. She may confuse you with another individual, and she may exhibit some challenging behaviors, such as aggression or agitation at loud, unexpected noises. Please understand that this is an element of the disease, and in no way intentional or a reflection of your relationship.”
- Check in with the senior loved one often. Look closely at your loved one’s body language, and be sure to intervene when needed. Oftentimes relocating to a more peaceful room to rest is effective. Even when the senior seems to be relaxed and content, it is smart to occasionally ask simply, “How are you doing?” to circumvent any possible issues before they arise.
- Keep your loved one engaged. Whenever possible, include the senior in the pursuits other members of the family are enjoying, whether singing holiday songs, opening gifts, reminiscing, or watching holiday classics. Frequently, long-term memory remains intact even if short-term memory is decreased, and holiday traditions such as these may ignite renewed interest and enjoyment.
- Think through gift ideas very carefully. For a senior with dementia, even the most innocuous gift could be dangerous. It’s best to stick to necessities: a warm blanket, a favorite type of food, comfortable slippers. If members of the family ask for specific gift ideas, the gift of respite care is one that’s always welcome! A professional home care agency, like Live Free Home Health Care, can offer gift cards for specialized dementia care – providing a priceless gift for the senior and his or her loved ones.
For further tips and information related to making the holiday season as pleasant as possible for those with dementia, contact Live Free Home Health Care. Our dementia care team is highly skilled in the most compassionate, patient, and creative care techniques to help older adults remain as safe, independent, and engaged as possible. Contact us any time at 603-217-0149 to find out more about our top-rated in home care services in Bristol and the surrounding areas.