How to Celebrate the Holidays With a Loved One Who Has Dementia
For many, the holidays are a time for family and celebration, but the season can have its challenges, too. This is especially true for those who have a family member diagnosed with Alzehimer’s or another form of dementia. There may be increased pressure and stress on caregivers as they try to balance family expectations and obligations with their regular responsibilities for their loved one’s care. Additionally, those with dementia can become easily overwhelmed this time of year if their routines are disrupted.
However, there are numerous ways you can create a more pleasant holiday season for yourself and your loved one. It may take a bit more preparation, but here are some suggestions on how to adjust your holiday traditions to make this time of year as merry as possible.
Involve Your Loved One
One of the best things you can do during the holiday season is to keep your loved one engaged and involved where appropriate. This time of year can be especially lonely for seniors, and spending time with them can help ease these feelings. Additionally, it’s been proven that regular social engagement in quiet settings can help ease some symptoms of memory-based conditions.
Plan a Smaller Celebration
Large crowds and noisy environments can cause a lot of distress and confusion for people with dementia. For that reason, planning a smaller holiday celebration for your loved one can alleviate a lot of stress. Smaller gatherings help minimize confusion by giving your loved one a limited number of faces and voices to focus on, making it easier for them to feel comfortable.
Create the Right Atmosphere
Those with dementia thrive on routine, so it’s important to incorporate as much of their existing routine into your holiday activities as possible. Avoid completely upending their daily schedule for celebrations and instead focus on creating a comforting experience for a time in their schedule where some flexibility may be expected (like at meal times). Put on their favorite music and consider planning the menu around their favorite foods. Any element of comfort and familiarity you can provide will make the atmosphere more positive for your loved one.
Adapt Holiday Activities
It is difficult for dementia patients to learn new things, so any holiday activities you plan should keep this in mind. If your loved one’s condition allows, consider playing a familiar card game you’ve enjoyed as a family for years as opposed to trying to introduce a new board game into the mix. Alternatively, you could also put together a puzzle or do an arts and crafts activity as a family. If your holiday activities require preparation, or you are cooking a meal, include them in the preparation as much as their ability allows.
Take Time to Enjoy the Experience
Don’t let the anxiety of ensuring your loved one is comfortable overshadow the real reason you’ve adapted your holiday plans in the first place: to better enjoy time with your family and loved ones. Be sure that this holiday season, you take a moment to practice gratitude and reflect on the joys of the season.
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If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia and want to ensure they receive the best care possible, consider memory care at Querencia. Our expert memory care team works with you and your family to understand everything that makes your loved one unique so that we can provide personalized care. From medication monitoring and administration to spacious, private residences in a protected environment, we are dedicated to keeping your loved one comfortable, engaged and safe. Contact us to learn more or schedule a tour.