Coping with dementia is challenging on any given day, but add in the disruptions to routine, increased visitors, decorations, and noise of the holidays, and you could have a recipe for elevated agitation, anxiety, and discomfort. The key to a relaxing holiday season for a senior loved one with dementia is based on pre-planning, remaining flexible, and altering expectations.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers a number of helpful suggestions to make certain that individuals diagnosed with dementia, and those who care for them, are able to enjoy the holiday season to the fullest.
- Bring family and friends up to date. For folks who haven’t spent time recently with your senior loved one, it is worthwhile to be sure they know what changes they could expect to notice. It could be beneficial to send out an email or letter to each person you’ll see over the holidays, with specific details such as, “You may observe that Aunt Sally has changed since your previous visit. She may mistake you for somebody else, and she may display some challenging behaviors, such as aggression or agitation at loud, unexpected noises. Please know that this is part of the disease, and in no way intentional.”
- Check in with the senior frequently. Look closely at your loved one’s body language, and be sure to intervene when required. Oftentimes moving to a less noisy room to rest is helpful. Even when your senior loved one seems relaxed and content, it is a smart idea to sporadically ask simply, “How are you doing?” to circumvent any possible issues before they arise.
- Keep the senior engaged. Whenever possible, include the senior in the pursuits other household members are having fun with, whether singing holiday songs, opening gifts, reminiscing, or watching holiday classics. Frequently, long-term memory remains intact even though short-term memory is diminished, and holiday traditions such as these may trigger renewed interest and engagement.
- Think through gift suggestions very carefully. For a senior with dementia, even the most harmless gift could be dangerous. It is best to stick to essentials: a warm blanket, a favorite kind of food, comfortable slippers. If family members ask for specific gift suggestions, the gift of respite care is one that is always welcome! A professional home care agency, like Absolute Companion Care, can offer gift cards for specialized dementia care – providing a priceless gift for both the senior along with his or her family members.
For further tips and resources pertaining to making the holiday season as enjoyable as you possibly can for those with dementia, contact Absolute Companion Care, the memory care Baltimore experts. Our care team is highly trained in the most compassionate, patient, and creative care techniques to help senior loved ones stay as safe, independent, and engaged as possible. Reach out to us any time at 410-357-9640 for more information.