Coping with dementia is difficult on any given day, but add in the disruptions to routine, extra visitors, decorations, and noise, and you may have a recipe for increased agitation, anxiety, and discomfort. The key to increasing holiday enjoyment for seniors with dementia as well as you and your family lies in pre-planning, remaining flexible, and altering expectations.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers a number of helpful tips to make certain those with dementia, and the people who care for them, are able to enjoy the holiday season to the fullest.
- Bring friends and family up to speed. For those who haven’t spent time recently with your senior loved one, it’s important to be sure they understand what changes they might expect to recognize. It could be useful to send out an email or letter to each individual you will see during the holidays, with precise details such as, “You may notice that Aunt Betty has changed since your previous visit. She may mistake you for some other person, and she may exhibit some challenging behaviors, such as aggression or agitation at loud, unexpected noises. Please remember that this is an element of the disease, and in no way intentional or personal.”
- Check in with the senior frequently. Look closely at your loved one’s body language, and make certain to intervene when necessary. Oftentimes, relocating to a quieter room to rest is effective. Even if a senior loved one appears relaxed and content, it’s smart to sporadically ask simply, “How are you doing?” to circumvent any potential problems before they arise.
- Keep the senior engaged. As much as possible, include the older adult in the activities that other family members are enjoying, whether singing holiday songs, opening gifts, reminiscing, or watching holiday classics. Typically, long-term memory remains intact even as short-term memory is decreased, and holiday traditions such as these may ignite renewed connection and interest.
- Think through gift ideas very carefully. For someone with dementia, even the most harmless gift might be dangerous. It is best to adhere to necessities: a warm blanket, a favorite type 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 Anthem Home Care, can offer gift cards for specialized dementia care – providing a priceless gift for the senior along with his or her family members.
For additional tips and information pertaining to making the holiday season as pleasant as you can for those with dementia, contact Anthem Home Care, one of the top-rated Bayside home care agencies, and trusted by local families. 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 now at 361-643-2323 for more information.