While the holidays are a great time to spend time with those we love, when celebrations, special events, or holidays include many people, this can cause confusion and anxiety for a person with dementia. He or she may find some situations easier and more pleasurable than others. The tips below can help you and the person with dementia visit and reconnect with family, friends, and neighbors during holidays.
Maintain A Stable Environment
The holidays can be tricky. One one hand, they conjure up positive memories of the past, but on the other hand, they can be a reminder of what was. They also can be a time of added stress and extra worry.
Here are some ways to balance doing many holiday-related activities while taking care of your own needs and those of the person with Alzheimer’s disease:
- Celebrate holidays that are important to you. Include the person with Alzheimer’s as much as possible.
- Set your own limits, and be clear about them with others. You do not have to live up to the expectations of friends or relatives.
- Incorporate the person with dementia as much as possible. Whether it is in simple holiday preparations, or have him or her observe your preparations. Observing you will familiarize him or her with the upcoming festivities. Participating with you may give the person the pleasure of helping and the fun of anticipating and reminiscing.
- Consider simplifying your holidays around the home. Instead of elaborate decorations, consider choosing a few select items.
- Encourage friends and family to visit even if it’s difficult. Limit the number of visitors at any one time, or have a few people visit quietly with the person in a separate room. Plan visits when the person usually is at his or her best.
- Prepare quiet distractions to use, such as a family photo album, if the person with Alzheimer’s becomes upset or overstimulated.
- Make sure there is a space where the person can rest when he or she goes to larger gatherings.
Making Guests Feel Comfortable
Explain to your guests what dementia is. Set the precedent for what is acceptable and what is not.
If this is the first visit since the person with dementia became severely impaired, tell guests that the visit may be painful. The memory-impaired person may not remember guests’ names or relationships but can still enjoy their company.
- Explain that memory loss is the result of the disease and is not intentional. No one should take anything personal.
- Stress that the meaningfulness of the moment together matters more than what the person remembers.
Preparing the Person with Dementia
Here are some tips to help the person with dementia get ready for visitors:
- Begin reminding the person with dementia of who all will be in attendance. You can use photos to help jog their memory.
- Arrange a phone call or FaceTime for the person with Alzheimer’s and the visitor. The call gives the visitor an idea of what to expect and gives the person with memory loss an opportunity to become familiar with the visitor.
- Keep the memory-impaired person’s routine as close to normal as possible.
- During the business of the holiday season, do your best to avoid fatigue and find time for adequate rest.
Although the Holiday Season can bring about extra worry and stress, there are some steps you can take to make it a more enjoyable time for you and your loved ones. Taking the time to prepare all peoples involved can really make a difference in the time that is spent with one another. Here at Orchard at Brookhaven, we are ready to adjust with you and your families. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact us today!