For many, the holidays are a special time for family togetherness and festive celebrations. But if you have a loved one who is diagnosed with dementia, this season can present unique challenges for your family’s holiday gatherings. Family caregivers may feel increased pressure and stress as they try to balance expectations for their loved one’s care with their personal responsibilities. Additionally, those with dementia can become easily overwhelmed this time of year if their routines are disrupted.
Fortunately, there are many ways family members can create an enjoyable holiday season for themselves and their loved ones with memory loss. Here are some suggestions on how to adjust your holiday traditions to make this time of year as enjoyable and positive as possible.
1. Set realistic expectations for holiday gatherings.
The first step to ensuring an enjoyable, stress-free holiday season with aging loved ones is to set realistic expectations about their visit. Because your loved one’s needs and abilities have evolved, you will likely need to adjust your holiday traditions to create a positive experience that matches their current circumstances. Alert family members and guests about your aging loved one’s condition so that they can help create an environment that feels safe and comfortable. Prepare family and friends for how to handle common issues like communication, suggested activities, and safety issues including wandering.
2. Involve your loved one as much as possible.
If their ability allows, include your loved one in holiday preparations and activities. Ask them to fold napkins for the dinner table, hang ornaments on the tree, or participate in a family card game. A great way to engage with someone who has dementia is to reminisce on the past. Watch a familiar movie, look through old photo albums, or listen to their favorite songs as an effective way to help them retrieve old memories and recall familiar faces.
3. Avoid large celebrations.
A person with dementia may feel overwhelmed with large crowds and noisy parties. To reduce unnecessary stress, it can be helpful to plan for smaller, more intimate holiday gatherings with your family. Small holiday parties with familiar faces can help minimize confusion for your senior loved one and help them feel more comfortable and at ease.
4. Maintain consistent routines.
People with dementia thrive on routine. This consistency helps minimize potential stress and confusion, ensuring that your loved one feels comfortable and secure amidst the festive hustle and bustle. If they typically eat dinner at 5, stick to their scheduled mealtime. Maybe they feel overwhelmed and irritable in the evenings, so you move your holiday party to an earlier time in the day. Or perhaps your loved one resides in a memory care community, so you and other family members visit them where they feel most comfortable and at ease.
Consider Memory Care for the Holidays
When a loved one’s needs become too advanced for family caregivers to manage alone, a memory care community is an excellent option. Professionals in memory care help relieve the pressures family member’s face when caring for someone with dementia.
As you start to explore memory care facilities in your area, consider working with an advisor who can help you every step of the way. At Senior Living Experts, we offer free services to families looking for the right memory care community for their loved one. Our process includes:
We gather information necessary for proper placement, including your needs, location, and budget.
We get to know your needs and preferences before using our deep knowledge of senior communities and industry connections to narrow down your options.
Your advisor will accompany you on tours so your search can be as thorough as possible.
Following your loved one’s move, we will continuously check in to make sure everything is going well.
Connect with an advisor today to learn more about our services.