When someone you love is living with dementia, the holidays can feel overwhelming and difficult to navigate. At the same time, a person living with dementia may feel a sense of disappointment or confusion during the holidays because of the changes they are experiencing. For this reason, it’s important that family members find ways to modify holiday traditions so that they are enjoyable and comfortable for all. Here are some practical ways to celebrate the holiday season when your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Have a plan.
Sit down and talk with other family members about your loved one’s cognitive changes. Set realistic expectations about what your loved one can handle, and plan a celebration in a familiar, calming environment that will work best for their needs. This might mean hosting a small gathering with close family in your home or attending a holiday celebration at your loved one’s senior living community. Recognize that you may need to modify your holiday plans to accommodate your loved one’s needs, knowing that your holiday celebration can still be a positive, meaningful experience.
Plan holiday activities your loved one will enjoy.
The holidays may look different for someone with dementia, but there are many ways to include your loved one so that they can experience the joy of the season. Focus on their current abilities and involve them in the activities they can successfully accomplish. Some simple ways to involve your loved one include:
- Wrapping gifts
- Hanging ornaments on the tree
- Looking at holiday light displays
- Listening to festive music
Follow a routine that works best for your loved one.
Older adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s thrive on routine. If they will be attending a celebration, make plans to follow their daily schedule as this will help them from feeling stressed and overwhelmed. For instance, if your loved one is easily agitated in the evenings, have the holiday gathering earlier in the day. Or, if your older adult doesn’t wake up until late morning, host the family celebrating in the late afternoon.
Keep gatherings intimate.
Large, noisy crowds can be especially over-stimulating for people with dementia. Keep gatherings small to avoid overwhelming your loved one. It can also be helpful to designate a quiet room in the house where your loved one can retreat if they start to feel agitated or stressed.
Memory Support for Seniors at The Oaks at Bartlett
When spending time with your older loved one this holiday season, you may realize that they could benefit from a higher level of care than you and other family members can provide. One of the best ways to support a family member with dementia is to get them professional care in a community setting that will maximize their cognitive abilities while helping them retain their independence.
At The Oaks at Bartlett, we take the health and happiness of our residents very seriously—and the holidays are no exception. If you would like to learn more about the best ways to cope with dementia during the holidays or to schedule a tour of our memory care facility, contact us today!