Tips for Dealing with Dementia During the Holidays
While we all look forward to the holidays with great anticipation, preparing for the big family gathering can be an enormous undertaking. The task can be even more challenging if your family includes a loved one dealing with dementia.
For the caregiver who deals with the struggles of dementia on a daily basis, the added responsibility of a holiday celebration can seem overwhelming. The disruption of their daily routine can also be unsettling for the dementia patient as well.
The holidays should be a happy time for everyone but dealing with dementia can make that difficult. There are ways to handle the holidays so you, your family and your loved one dealing with dementia can all enjoy the celebration. Keep in mind, depending on the stage of your loved one’s disease, some of these suggestions may be more appropriate than others.
Keep Everyone in the Loop
The holidays bring families together but often because of jobs, geography and the demands of daily life, they may not spend that much time together during the rest of the year. A lot can change with a dementia patient in the course of a year and it is best to make sure there are no surprises when distant family members arrive for the holidays.
Be sure that everyone in the family is up to date on the progression of your loved one’s disease. It may be painful but necessary to let them know that Grandma might not recognize them and even if she does, she won’t understand the reason for the visit and all the fuss. Someone dealing with dementia can also easily become agitated and act out. Making family members understand this will reduce the shock of any erratic behavior and allow them to take it in stride.
Make the Celebration Less Elaborate
This can make the holidays less stressful for everyone. Especially if the caregiver is hosting the holiday celebration, scaling back a bit on the festivities can be a good idea. While you probably don’t want to cut back on the guest list, you could simplify the menu, make the meal potluck or possibly have it catered. Even though we all look forward to our holiday favorites at the dinner table, the best part of the holidays is spending time with family.
Also, when doing double duty as a caregiver and holiday host, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Appoint another family member as back up. They can either take over some of the holiday chores or keep your loved one company while you’re busy in the kitchen.
Involve Your Loved One Dealing with Dementia
While this may be easier to accomplish the with dementia patients in the earlier stages of the disease, getting them involved in the holiday preparations and festivities may help keep them focused and content. This can make the holidays more enjoyable for everyone.
It can be something simple like putting bows and tags on packages or sprinkles on holiday cookies. Any task will make them feel included and useful.
Preserving Traditions Can Trigger Memories
Holiday traditions and family favorites can sometimes stimulate memories in someone dealing with dementia. Whether it’s a particular dessert or special song, familiar things from holidays past can help your loved one connect with the holiday. Passing around family photo albums can spark conversations among family members that may also trigger a loved one’s memory.
Give Yourself a Break
Holiday preparations can become overwhelming for both the caregiver and the loved one dealing with dementia. When this happens, it is beneficial for both individuals to take a break. Adult day care can be a great solution during the holidays and beyond.
At Signature Senior Services, our facilities create a home away from home, a place for your loved ones to relax, have some fun and still be taken care of while providing you with peace of mind. We are full-service elder care company with a focus on Senior Medical Adult Day Care and Assisted Living facilities. We offer health care services and activities in a progressive, fun, clean, safe, affordable environment for loved ones. With two convenient locations, call us or stop in and see how we can help when dealing with dementia.