When you are caring for someone with Dementia holidays are bittersweet. There are things you look forward to as always but the Dementia adds an element of the unexpected.
Here are a few reminders as the holidays approach.
- Plan ahead – don’t wait until the day of the holiday to figure out what the needs of the person with dementia might be.
- They may not be able to handle to noise and hub bub of a family gathering – have a quiet place prepared in case they need a reprieve.
- They may need to be reminded or taken to the bathroom to avoid embarrassing accidents.
- You may need to remind them of the steps in certain parts of the holiday traditions
- Be flexible – allow for the possibility that your plans may not go as expected and be willing to change them to accommodate your loved one’s needs.
- You may need to consider ending an event earlier than anticipated
- Have someone lined up to take your loved one home when they have had enough.
- Do familiar holiday activities that have been lifelong to facilitate memory retrieval and their ability to participate.
- Making a wish on the turkey wishbone
- Singing Christmas Carols
- Decorating the Christmas tree
- Prepare the rest of the family and friends you will be with for the changes in your loved one either through a phone call or a letter before the holiday gathering so they are able to respond well and will not be taken off guard. This is especially important if the changes over the past year have been significant.
Holiday times are important to all of us because they are times of family and friends gathering together. Don’t get caught up in the expectations and busy-ness of this time of year. Take the time to focus on the people who make this time of year meaningful. People are the important part of the holiday not the decorations, gifts and traditions. If this would be your last holiday with your loved one would it change your perspective on what the holiday should be like? Provide them with meaningful activities they can participate in without being overwhelmed. A low-key approach to the holiday season will not enhance or return the memories of the person with dementia but it will build wonderful memories for you with less stress.