The restrictions of the COVID pandemic greatly affected last year’s holiday season, leaving many families isolated from one another. Fortunately, this year families are able to embrace the opportunity to safely gather together again. While decking the halls and getting ready for visits with family members, modifying holiday activities for seniors with Alzheimer’s is critical to ensure they can enjoy the holidays to the fullest as well.
Smaller is better.
Spreading out visits and inviting fewer people at a time instead of one overwhelming gathering with the whole family will probably be easier for the older adult to manage. Overstimulation, excessive noise, and breaking from routine can lead to stress and agitation.
Timing is everything.
Pay attention to the senior’s emotions throughout the span of a normal day. Is the older adult more alert, engaged, and content in the early mornings, or later in the day? To the degree it’s possible, plan get-togethers around that time of day – even if it means breaking a family tradition. A holiday brunch may be easier for the older adult than an evening party, for instance.
Personal space is a must.
Look for a peaceful area away from the busyness of friends and family, and help the older adult retreat to that room when necessary. Watch out for early warning signs that the senior is feeling stressed out, and have a few soothing activities at the ready, such as soft music to listen to, a photo album for reminiscing, or even a nap.
Don’t skip the planning.
Prior to the gathering, make a list of things the older adult particularly likes and responds to, and brainstorm activities that incorporate those ideas. A loved one who likes music (as many with dementia do) might like hearing a grandchild play traditional holiday tunes on the piano while everyone sings along. A person who has always loved baking can join in rolling out pie crust or mixing cookie dough.
Bear in mind the senior’s tolerance for holiday visiting. There’s nothing wrong with cutting a celebration short when it’s in the senior’s best interest.
Similarly, keep your own needs in mind. Taking care of a family member with dementia is not easy, and adding in the additional elements associated with the holiday season can bring about extra anxiety to family caregivers as well.
Live Free Home Health Care’s experts in home health care in Concord, NH and surrounding areas offer respite care services that allow family caregivers to take some time away for themselves. We’re available whenever you need a break, including at family gatherings like holiday parties. Let one of our skilled dementia care staff serve as a companion for a loved one with dementia, guaranteeing all of their needs are met during the event and enabling you to relax and fully enjoy family time.