The holidays can stir up a lot of mixed feelings for family members affected by Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. While typically a time for celebration, families may experience a sense of loss or disappointment for the way things used to be. At the same time, your older loved one may feel confused, overstimulated or agitated by all the holiday preparation and events.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to have meaningful and purposeful time with your loved one this season. Here are some ideas for navigating the holidays when your loved one has dementia.
Some advanced planning can go a long way to reduce holiday stress and encourage an inclusive, enjoyable holiday for the entire family. Consider what’s realistic for your loved one and understand that you will need to modify your holiday traditions to accommodate their needs. Talk to other family members about your loved one’s cognitive changes so that everyone is on the same page and understands how to best support your loved one when it comes time for holiday celebrations.
Host a smaller gathering.
Big celebrations can be especially overwhelming and exhausting for someone with dementia. If your senior loved one is coming to your home, consider hosting a smaller, shorter gathering with only close relatives. Dedicate a quiet space in your house where your loved one can go during the party if they start to feel agitated or stressed.
Respect their schedule.
To ensure a successful holiday celebration for your loved one, be mindful of their current schedule and adjust your plans accordingly. For example, if they are easily agitated in the evenings, have the holiday celebration earlier in the day. By maintaining your loved one’s familiar routine, you can help keep the holidays from becoming overly stressful or confusing.
Involve your loved one in holiday celebrations.
To help your older adult feel included, focus on holiday activities and traditions that they already enjoy. Consider their current abilities and involve them in the tasks they can successfully accomplish. Ideas include:
- Listening to their favorite holiday music
- Looking through photo albums
- Wrapping gifts
- Addressing holiday cards
- Hanging ornaments
- Driving to see festive lights
- Participating in holiday events together at your loved one’s care facility
Memory Care at Country Place Senior Living
When spending time with your older loved one this holiday season, you may realize that they could benefit from a higher level of care than you and other family members can provide. One of the best ways to support a family member with memory loss is to get them professional care in a community setting that will maximize their cognitive abilities while helping them retain their independence.
At Country Place, we take the health and happiness of our residents very seriously—and the holidays are no exception. If you would like to learn more about the best ways to cope with dementia during the holidays or to schedule a tour of our memory care facility, contact us today!