Living with dementia is daunting on any given day, but add in the disruptions to routine, extra visitors, decorations, and noise that come with the holidays, and you may just have a recipe for elevated agitation, stress, and discomfort. The secret to a satisfying holiday for both your family, along with a senior loved one with dementia, is based on pre-planning, remaining flexible, and modifying expectations.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers a number of helpful tips to ensure individuals with dementia, and those who take care of them, have the ability to enjoy the holiday season to the fullest.
- Bring loved ones and close friends up to speed. For people who haven’t spent time recently with your loved one, it’s important to ensure they know what changes they can expect to notice. It may be helpful to send out an email or letter to each person you’ll see over the holidays, with specific details such as, “You may notice that Aunt Violet has changed since your last visit. She may confuse you with some other person, and she may display some challenging behaviors, such as aggression or agitation at loud, unexpected noises. Please recognize that this is part of the disease, and in no way deliberate or directed at you personally.”
- Check in with the senior loved one frequently. Focus on your loved one’s body language, and make sure to intervene when necessary. Sometimes switching to a quieter room to rest is helpful. Even when your senior loved one appears relaxed and content, it is a good idea to periodically ask simply, “How are you doing?” to circumvent any potential problems before they arise.
- Keep your loved one engaged. If at all possible, include the older adult in the activities other family members are taking pleasure in, whether singing holiday songs, opening gifts, reminiscing, or watching holiday classics. Often, long-term memory remains intact even when short-term memory is diminished, and holiday traditions such as these may spark renewed interest and enjoyment.
- Think through gift ideas carefully. For someone with dementia, even the most innocuous gift may be dangerous. It’s best to adhere to essentials: a cozy blanket, a favorite kind of food, comfy slippers. If loved ones ask for specific gift ideas, the gift of respite care is one that’s always welcome! A professional home care agency, like Compassionate Nursing Services, can provide gift cards for specialized dementia care – providing a priceless gift for the senior along with his or her members of the family.
For additional tips and resources related to making the holiday season as enjoyable as possible for those with dementia, contact Compassionate Nursing Services. Our St. Louis home care team is highly trained in the most compassionate, patient, and creative care techniques to help older adults remain as safe, independent, and engaged as possible. Call us any time at 314-432-4312 to find out more about our top-rated home care and senior transportation services in St. Louis, MO.