Coping with dementia is challenging on any given day, but add in the interruptions to routine, increased visitors, decorations, and noise of the holiday season, and you may just have a recipe for increased agitation, anxiety, and discomfort. The key to pleasurable, dementia friendly holidays for your family, together with a senior loved one with dementia, is based on pre-planning, remaining flexible, and adjusting expectations.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers some helpful tips to ensure you can have dementia friendly holidays this season so that individuals with dementia, and those who take care of them, are able to enjoy time together to the very fullest.
- Bring family and friends up to date. For those who haven’t spent time lately with your senior loved one, it is necessary to make sure they know what changes they can expect to encounter. It can be useful to send out an email or letter to each person you’ll see over the holidays, with precise details such as, “You may observe that Aunt Josephine has changed since your previous visit. She may mistake you for somebody else, and she may exhibit some challenging behaviors, such as aggression or agitation at loud, unexpected noises. Please recognize that this is a part of the disease, and in absolutely no way personal or intentional.”
- Check in with the older adult often. Pay attention to your loved one’s body language, and make certain to step in when required. Sometimes moving to a quieter room to rest is effective. Even if your senior loved one seems relaxed and content, it’s a wise idea to sporadically ask simply, “How are you doing?” to prevent any possible problems before they arise.
- Keep the senior engaged. As much as possible, include the older adult with dementia in the activities other loved ones are taking pleasure in, whether singing holiday songs, opening gifts, reminiscing, or watching holiday classics. Oftentimes, long-term memory remains intact even if short-term memory is diminished, and holiday traditions such as these may ignite renewed interest and enthusiasm.
- Think through gift suggestions carefully. For someone with dementia, even the most harmless gift could be dangerous. It’s best to adhere to necessities: a cozy blanket, a favorite kind 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 At-Home Care Company, can offer gift certificates for specialized dementia care – providing a priceless gift for the senior along with his or her family caregivers.
For further tips and information pertaining to making the holiday season as pleasant as possible for those with dementia, connect with At-Home Care Company, the home health care Polk County families trust. Our care team is highly trained in the most compassionate, patient, and creative care techniques to help seniors remain as safe, independent, and engaged as possible. Reach out to us any time at (515) 292-2650 or (515) 963-4410 to find out more.