Elder Care Tips: Holiday Tips For Celebrating With A Loved One Who Has Dementia / Alzheimer’s
Elder Care Tips for the Holidays When Celebrating with a Loved One Who Has Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease
According to official statistics, there are more than 6 million Americans of all ages living with Alzheimer’s Disease. Also, it is estimated that nearly 500,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s disease are diagnosed each year in the United States.
Unfortunately, while Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia we might encounter when performing elder care, there are other kinds which bring the numbers of those suffering even higher.
In the U.S. there are at least 5 million people living with age-related dementia.
Chances are many of you may be going into the holiday season with a loved one who is newly diagnosed with some form of dementia. My mother has dementia, and my family has learned over the years how to help her enjoy the holiday season by modifying our behavior. In the beginning, it took some getting used to, but now everyone in my family enjoys the holidays as much as ever just by incorporating some guidelines that serve to protect and consider mom’s specific needs.
At first, your family may feel a sense of loss for having to change traditional ways of celebrating. Believe me, making minor adjustments as you become more familiar with your loved one’s needs will bring more joy and will tap into your deepest reservoirs of love. And like anything else, practice makes perfect!
Minor Holiday Adjustments Make The Season Merry And Bright For Dementia Patients
If you are celebrating for the first time this year with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, I hope these tips from the Mayo Clinic help you and your family make adjustments that make the season merry and bright for everyone.
Create a safe and calm space
To create an appropriate environment during the holidays for the person with dementia:
Tone down decorations. Avoid blinking lights or large decorative displays that can cause confusion. Avoid decorations that cause clutter or require you to rearrange a familiar room.
Avoid safety hazards
Substitute electric/battery operated candles for burning candles. If you do light candles, don’t leave them unattended. Avoid fragile decorations or decorations that could be mistaken for edible treats, such as artificial fruits. If you have a tree, secure it to a wall.
Play favorite music
Familiar or favorite holiday music may be enjoyable. Adjust the volume to be relaxing and not distressing.
Tips For Adapting Traditional Holiday Activities
To help the person with dementia enjoy the holidays:
Prepare together. Mix batter, decorate cookies, open holiday cards or make simple decorations. Focus on the task rather than the outcome.
Host a small gathering. Aim to keep celebrations quiet and relaxed.
Avoid disruptions. Plan a gathering at the best time of day for the person with dementia. Keep daily routines in place as much as possible.
Provide a quiet place. If you are having guests over, provide a quiet place for the person with dementia to have time alone or to visit with one person at a time.
Plan meaningful activities. You might read a favorite holiday story, look at photo albums, watch a favorite holiday movie or sing songs.
Keep outings brief. If you’ll be attending a holiday gathering, plan to be brief or be prepared to leave early if necessary. Make sure there is a place to rest or take a break.
Take Care Of Yourself
If you are the primary caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s/Dementia, take good care of yourself during the holiday season. Ask for help when you can and review the other tips at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/caregivers/in-depth/alzheimers/art-20047715
They have provided ideas for celebrating with a loved one at care facilities, as well as how to prepare guests who may be coming into the home. We all know that the holidays are stressful for everyone. With the entire world living under the extraordinary stress of a pandemic for the past two years, we are all a little more fragile. So, please take this into consideration as the holiday season goes into full swing.
May you and yours have a peaceful, healthy, happy holiday season and may that extend into the New Year.
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