By Tabitha White, Certified Concierge Care Advisor
Well, it’s that time again! With the holidays right around the corner, this time of year represents the perfect occasion for friends and family to get together and celebrate. The holidays are full of emotions and for many it’s full of joy. For some caregivers, you may be thinking about how to include your loved one with Alzheimer’s or Dementia in those special traditions. Here are some tips and ideas for safely enjoying time with family and friends during the holidays that are all dementia friendly.
It can help to let your loved ones know what to expect and to explain the limitations the disease has created. Communicate with your family and friends’ realistic expectations about what you can reasonably and safely manage. Discussing with friends and family in advance any changes in behaviors they might see in the person living with dementia can prepare them for the sometimes shocking and hard to accept change.
When making holiday plans, consider the person living with dementia’s daily routine and try to maintain their normal activities as much as possible. People living with middle to later stages of dementia are prone to “sundowning,” which is a syndrome that can cause confusion in the late afternoon-early evening as the sun sets. It is best to plan to celebrate earlier in the day for those who experience sundowning.
Include them in doing safe tasks. Try asking him or her to help prepare food with you, or to help decorate and set the table. Even something like folding napkins may be the best way to help a person living with dementia feel included. Small tasks like this typically aren’t going to be too overwhelming or stressful.
Designate a quite space away from the crowd should they become overstimulated. Having some comfort items will help them feel safe and comfortable.
Keep the decorations to a minimum. Avoid any decorations that could be mistaken for edible treats. It can be confusing for someone living with dementia to see artificial fruit or vegetables out. Avoid using blinking lights that can cause confusion. Substitute electric candles for all burning candles. Play music that may spark a memory. Keep the volume relaxed.
A well-planned holiday can have a positive impact on the well-being of a person living with dementia and for those around them.