The limitations of the COVID pandemic had a tremendous impact on last year’s holidays, forcing many families to remain isolated from each other. Fortunately, this season families can embrace the opportunity to safely gather together once again. While decking the halls and preparing for the holidays with seniors, it is vital to include adaptations to make sure a loved one with dementia will enjoy the season to the fullest as well.
Less is more.
Staggering visits and including fewer individuals at a time instead of one overwhelming gathering with the entire family will most likely be easier for the older adult to handle. Overstimulation, excessive noise, and breaking from routine can lead to stress and agitation.
Timing is important.
Pay close attention to the person’s feelings through the span of an average day. Is the individual more alert, engaged, and content in the mornings, or later in the afternoon? To the extent it’s possible, plan get-togethers around that time of day – even if this means breaking a family tradition. A holiday brunch might be more pleasurable for the older adult than an evening dinner party, for example.
Personal space is crucial.
Find a calm room away from the busyness of friends and family, and help the individual retreat to that space if necessary. Watch for early warning signs that a loved one is feeling overwhelmed, and have one or two calming activities at the ready, such as soft music to enjoy, a photo album for reminiscing, or even a nap.
Before the get-together, make a list of things the senior particularly loves and responds to, and think up activities that feature those ideas. An older adult who enjoys music (as many with dementia do) might like listening to a grandchild play traditional holiday tunes on the piano while everybody sings along. For a person who has always enjoyed baking, let her or him participate in rolling out pie crust or mixing cookie dough.
Keep in mind the older adult’s patience for holiday visiting. There’s nothing wrong with leaving a gathering early when it’s in the senior’s best interest.
Likewise, keep your own needs in mind. Caring for a loved one with dementia isn’t easy, and adding in the extra elements involved with the holiday season can bring additional strain to family caregivers as well.
Home With You Senior Care the experts in home care in Glyndon, MD and the nearby areas, offers in-home respite care services that allow family caregivers to take time for themselves. We’re here anytime you need a break, including at family functions like holiday parties. Let one of our trained dementia care staff serve as a companion for a loved one with dementia, ensuring all of their needs are met during the event and allowing you to relax and fully enjoy family time.