Coping with dementia is difficult on any given day, but add in interruptions to routine, increased visitors, decorations, and noise, and you will have a recipe for increased agitation, anxiety, and discomfort. The key to a satisfying holiday for both your family and a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia lies in pre-planning, remaining flexible, and altering expectations.
The Alzheimer’s Association provides a number of helpful suggestions to make sure individuals diagnosed with dementia, and those who look after them, are able to enjoy the holiday season to the fullest.
- Bring friends and family up to speed. For people who haven’t spent time recently with your senior loved one, it’s important to make sure they understand what changes they could expect to see. It may be helpful to send out an email or letter to each person you’ll see over the holidays, with precise information such as, “You may notice that Aunt Bernice has changed since your last visit. She may mistake you for another individual, and she may exhibit some challenging behaviors, such as aggression or agitation at loud, unexpected noises. Please understand that this is an element of the disease, and in no way deliberate or directed at you.”
- Check in with the senior loved one regularly. Observe your loved one’s body language, and make certain to step in when necessary. In some cases, relocating to a more peaceful room to rest is effective. Even if your senior loved one seems relaxed and content, it is a good idea to periodically ask simply, “How are you doing?” to bypass any potential problems before they arise.
- Keep your senior loved one engaged. If at all possible, include the senior in the activities other household members are enjoying, whether singing holiday songs, opening gifts, reminiscing, or watching holiday classics. Typically, long-term memory remains intact even if short-term memory is decreased, and holiday traditions such as these may spark renewed interest and engagement.
- Think through gift suggestions carefully. For an individual with dementia, even the most innocuous gift may be dangerous. It’s best to stick to necessities: a cozy blanket, a well-liked kind of food, comfortable slippers. If family members ask for specific gift suggestions, the gift of respite care is one that’s always welcome! A professional home care agency, like Enhanced Home Care, can offer gift certificates for specialized Alzheimer’s care – providing a priceless gift for the senior and his or her members of the family.
For further tips and resources pertaining to making the holiday season as enjoyable as you can for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, contact Enhanced Home Care. Our care team is highly trained in the most compassionate, patient, and creative care techniques to help older adults stay as safe, independent, and engaged as possible. Reach out to us any time at 913-327-0000 to learn more about the home health Kansas City families trust.