The holidays are a rich and meaningful time when families get together and create lasting memories. If you have a loved one with dementia, you may need to make some adaptations to typical family routines and traditions. Holiday events can be confusing and anxiety-inducing for someone with dementia. To help ensure the most wonderful time of the year is just as enjoyable for your loved one as it is for you, Elder Care Alliance offers these helpful tips for coping with dementia during the holidays.
Minimize the Stress of Travel
If possible, avoid traveling too much with your loved one around the holidays. Travel is stressful for people with dementia. A better idea might be to hold the holiday events at your home, so you don’t have to travel at all. If you must travel, try to do it during your loved one’s best time of day. Never leave your loved one unsupervised, and avoid stopping in very busy or crowded places.
If your loved one lives in a memory care community, bring the (toned-down) holiday celebrations to them. That way, you won’t have to worry about preparing your loved one for the challenges of traveling.
Keep Things Familiar
Celebrating in a familiar setting is an important way of coping with dementia during the holidays. The more familiar the environment is, the less likely your loved one is to feel distressed. Avoid rearranging a familiar room to make way for a Christmas tree and play holiday music you know your loved one knows. Familiarity can go a long way toward helping someone with dementia feel at ease.
Invite Small Groups at a Time
Instead of inviting your entire extended family to celebrate with you at the same time, consider breaking up your holiday celebrations into smaller events. Inviting small groups at a time can help keep the celebrations quiet and is an excellent method for coping with dementia during the holidays.
Prepare Friends and Family Members
Before inviting friends and family members over, give them a quick review of what to expect from your family member with dementia. Let them know about any recent changes in memory or behavior that have occurred since they last visited. You may also need to prepare people for changes in your loved one’s appearance by showing them a recent photograph.
Involve Your Loved One in Preparations
Involving your loved one with dementia in holiday preparations can be a fun way to bond. Choose simple and safe activities for your loved one to participate in, such as hanging ornaments on the tree. Gentle involvement can help your family member with dementia feel the joy of the holidays firsthand.
Eliminate Loud Noises and Music
Create a dementia-friendly environment by eliminating loud noises and music during the holidays. People with dementia often struggle with noise, so keep conversations calm and low and ensure there aren’t too many things going on in your house simultaneously. If you would like to play music during the festivities, keep it soft and low so it has a calming effect.
These are just a few suggestions for coping with dementia during the holidays. For more helpful tips, contact Elder Care Alliance today.