Living with dementia is challenging on any given day, but add in disruptions to routine, additional visitors, decorations, and noise, and you might just have a recipe for elevated agitation, stress, and discomfort. The key to enjoying the holiday season, both for your family and a senior loved one with dementia, depends on pre-planning, remaining flexible, and altering expectations.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers some helpful tips to make certain those 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 date. For people who haven’t spent time recently with your senior loved one, it is crucial to make sure they understand what changes they could expect to recognize. It may be useful to send out an email or letter to each person you will see over the holidays, with specific information such as, “You may notice that Aunt Nancy has changed since your previous visit. She may mistake you for another individual, and she may exhibit some challenging behaviors, such as aggression or agitation at loud, unexpected noises. Please remember that this is a part of the disease, and in no way intentional or directed at anyone personally.”
- Check in with the senior loved one regularly. Focus on your loved one’s body language, and be sure to intervene when needed. Oftentimes relocating to a less busy room to rest is effective. Even though the senior may appear to be relaxed and content, it’s a smart idea to periodically ask simply, “How are you doing?” to bypass any possible issues before they arise.
- Keep your senior loved one engaged. If at all possible, include the older adult in the activities other family members are taking pleasure in, whether singing holiday songs, opening gifts, reminiscing, or watching holiday classics. Frequently, long-term memory remains intact even as short-term memory is diminished, and holiday traditions such as these may trigger renewed interest.
- Think through gift suggestions very carefully. For a senior with dementia, even the most innocuous gift might be dangerous. It’s best to stick to necessities: a warm blanket, a favorite kind of food, comfy slippers. If loved ones ask for specific gift ideas, the gift of respite care is one that’s always welcome! A professional home care agency, like Grace Home Care, can provide gift cards for specialized dementia care – providing a priceless gift for the senior along with his or her loved ones.
For further tips and resources related to making the holiday season as enjoyable as you can for those with dementia, connect with Grace Home Care. Our dementia care team is highly skilled in the most compassionate, patient, and creative care techniques to help senior loved ones remain as safe, independent, and engaged as possible. Give us a call any time at 785-286-2273 to find out more about our memory care in Topeka and the surrounding communities.