The restrictions of the COVID pandemic affected last year’s holiday season, forcing many families to be isolated from each other. Fortunately, this season families are able to embrace the opportunity to safely get together once more. While decking the halls and preparing for visits with your nearest and dearest, it is important to make adjustments to ensure seniors with Alzheimer’s will enjoy the holiday season to the fullest too.
Less is more.
Spreading out visits and inviting fewer people at a time rather than one overwhelming get-together with the whole family will most likely be easier for the older adult to handle. Overstimulation, excessive noise, and breaking from routine can result in irritation and agitation.
Timing is essential.
Pay attention to the senior’s emotions through the course of a normal day. Is the older adult more alert, engaged, and content in the mornings, or later in the evening? To the extent it’s possible, plan gatherings around that time of day – even if it means breaking a long-held tradition. A holiday brunch might be more enjoyable for the senior than an evening social gathering, for instance.
Personal space is vital.
Seek out a peaceful space away from the hustle and bustle of family and friends, and help the older adult retreat to that room when necessary. Watch out for early warning signs that the individual is feeling overwhelmed, and have one or two calming activities at the ready, such as soft music to listen to, a photo album for reminiscing, or even a nap.
Activities should be pre-planned.
Ahead of the gathering, make a list of things the older adult specifically loves and responds to, and think of activities that incorporate those ideas. A senior who enjoys music (as many with dementia do) might like hearing a grandchild play traditional holiday tunes on the piano while everybody sings along. Someone who has really loved baking can help rolling out pie crust or mixing cookie dough.
Keep in mind the senior’s tolerance for holiday visiting. There is nothing wrong with cutting a celebration short when it’s in the senior’s best interest.
Likewise, keep your own needs at heart. Caring for a loved one with dementia isn’t easy, and adding in the extra aspects associated with the holiday season can bring increased anxiety to family caregivers as well.
Absolute Companion Care, a provider of award-winning home care in Timonium, MD and surrounding areas, offers in-home respite care services that allow family caregivers to take some time for themselves. We are available whenever you need a break, including at family functions like holiday parties. Let one of our trained dementia care staff serve as a companion for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, ensuring all of his or her needs are met during the event and enabling you to take it easy and fully enjoy family time.