The constraints of the COVID pandemic impacted last year’s holiday season, leaving many families isolated from one another. Fortunately, this year families are able to embrace the chance to safely get together again. While decking the halls and preparing for visits with loved ones, it’s crucial to adapt the holidays for older adults with dementia so they can enjoy the season to the fullest as well.
Less is more.
Spreading out visits and inviting fewer individuals at a time rather than one big get-together with the whole family will most likely be easier for the person to manage. Overstimulation, too much noise, and breaking from routine can result in frustration and agitation.
Timing is everything.
Pay attention to the senior’s feelings throughout the span of an average day. Is the older adult more alert, engaged, and content in the mornings, or later in the day? To the degree you can, plan parties around that time of day – even if it means breaking a family tradition. A holiday brunch may be more enjoyable for the person than an evening social gathering, for example.
Personal space is crucial.
Search for a calm area away from the busyness of family and friends, and help the older adult retreat to that area if needed. Watch for early indicators that the person is feeling stressed, and have one or two calming activities at the ready, such as soft music to listen to, a photo album for reminiscing, or even a nap.
Activities should be pre-planned.
Ahead of the gathering, put together a list of things the senior particularly likes and responds to, and brainstorm activities that incorporate those ideas. Someone who loves music (as many with dementia do) may appreciate listening to a grandchild play traditional holiday songs on the piano while the family sings along. A person who has always loved cooking can join in rolling out pie crust or decorating cookies.
Always keep in mind the senior’s patience for holiday visiting. There is nothing wrong with leaving a gathering early when it’s in the best interest of a loved one.
Similarly, keep your own needs in mind. Caring for a family member with dementia isn’t easy, and adding in the additional aspects associated with the holiday season can bring extra tension to family caregivers as well.
Inspired Home Care’s experts in in-home care in Algonquin, IL and the surrounding communities offer respite care services that enable family caregivers to take time for themselves. We’re here anytime you need a break, including at family functions such as holiday parties. Let one of our trained dementia care staff serve as a companion for a loved one with dementia, guaranteeing all of their needs are met during the event and enabling you to fully enjoy family time.