Guest Post by Aging Life Care Expert, Debra Feldman
The holidays are a challenging time for everyone. Families gather from across the country, and there is a great deal of hustle and bustle. Days are hectic and full. Imagine how overwhelming the holiday celebrations might be for those family members with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Challenges for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease who will be visiting at someone else’s home
- They tire more quickly and may not be able to stay for the entire party
- They become overwhelmed by all of the people at large celebrations
- They have a difficult time with excessive noise
- They might not recognize everyone
It’s all in the Preparation
- Select the holiday activities and traditions that are most important; you don’t have to have the same celebration you had long ago
- Schedule the party at the time of day that is optimal for the person with Alzheimer’s disease; the dinner hour and beyond will likely not be a good time
- Consider hosting a small gathering when the person with dementia is included.
- Tone down your decorations – blinking lights and large decorative displays can cause disorientation. Avoid candles and decorations that look like edible treats.
- Avoid too loud or noisy environments – calm and quiet gatherings are better enjoyed by the person with dementia.
- Keep it simple
Ensure that your guests know what to expect of the person with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- Prior to the gathering, update and share with the guests the current cognitive abilities and behaviors they might display
- Help guests to interact – what things to say, how to present ideas/topics, how to respond to the behaviors
- Prepare your guests that they may not be recognized. They could try to share some past memories, but remember that this still may not trigger a connection. They can have conversations about the current goings on and should simply forget about trying to get the family member to recognize/remember who they are.
- Make the experience enjoyable
- Designate one person who is most familiar to the person with dementia to stay close by to assist with dining, the bathroom and being available to take the person home when they begin to tire.
- Involve the person in simple holiday preparations or encourage him/her to observe the preparations. Have them assist with decorations and baking.
- Build on past traditions and memories – singing old holiday songs, watching favorite holiday movies, or looking through old photo albums.
When your family member resides in a care facility. (Assisted Living, memory care facility, nursing home)
- Schedule visits at your loved one’s best time of day.
- Limit the number of people visiting at one time. Too many people are overwhelming for your loved one. Spread out the family visits over a few days.
- Keep in mind, the person with dementia does not know what day it is, so you can celebrate on any day that is most relaxing and convenient for you.
- Celebrate in the most familiar setting – for persons with Alzheimer’s disease, a change of environment can be very upsetting. If the person lives in a facility, reserve the special dining room if a meal is planned. Schedule the celebration in a private area of the community. You could also participate in the holiday activities that are planned by the community.
To learn more about how an Aging Life Care Expert can help you, visit www.ddfcaremanagement.com.