The constraints of the COVID pandemic wreaked havoc on last year’s holiday season, forcing many families to remain isolated from one another. Thankfully, this year families are able to embrace the opportunity to safely gather together once more. While decking the halls and getting ready for visits with family members, it’s vital to include adjustments to senior holiday activities to make sure a loved one with dementia can enjoy the season to the fullest as well.
These suggestions from our Chesterfield caregiving team are a great place to start:
Less is more.
Scheduling visits and inviting fewer individuals at a time instead of one overwhelming party with the entire family will most likely be easier for the individual to manage. Overstimulation, too much noise, and breaking from routine may cause frustration and agitation.
Timing is everything.
Be aware of the person’s emotional behavior throughout the course of a normal day. Is the older adult more content, alert, and engaged in the early mornings, or later in the afternoon? To the extent you are able, plan parties around that time of day – even if this means breaking a family tradition. A holiday brunch could be more pleasurable for the senior than an evening party, for instance.
Personal space is vital.
Find a calm area away from the hustle and bustle of friends and family, and help the older adult retreat to that area when necessary. Watch out for early warning signs that the person is feeling stressed, and have a few relaxing activities at the ready, such as soft music to enjoy, a photo album for reminiscing, or even a nap.
Pre-planning enjoyable activities.
Before the gathering, put together a list of things the older adult specifically likes and responds to, and brainstorm activities that incorporate those ideas. Someone who loves music (as many with dementia do) might like hearing a grandchild play traditional holiday songs on the piano while the family sings along. A person who has always liked cooking can join in rolling out pie crust or mixing cookie dough.
Keep in mind the senior’s tolerance for holiday visiting. There’s nothing wrong with cutting a celebration short if it’s in the older adult’s best interest.
Similarly, keep your own needs in mind. Caring for a senior loved one with dementia is not easy, and adding in the extra elements involved with the holiday season can bring added stress to family caregivers as well.
Compassionate Nursing Services’ Chesterfield, MO caregiving team offers in-home respite care services that allow family caregivers to take time for themselves. We are available whenever you need a break, including at family gatherings such as holiday parties. Let one of our trained dementia care staff act as a companion for a senior with dementia, ensuring all of their needs are met throughout the event and allowing you to relax and fully enjoy family time.
Call us at 314-432-4312 to set up a complimentary in-home assessment and to arrange for some holiday care for a senior you love – and for yourself! Find out about all of the communities where we provide our award-winning care by visiting our Service Area page.