This time of year is usually joyful and filled with expectations. Holidays can also be stressful for both caregivers and those living with dementia.
Both caregivers and those living with dementia will often feel a sense of loss of what was and never will be again.
Since the caregivers have the ‘healthy brain’ it is up to them to make the adjustments and modifications according to the needs of their loved one.
You will want to avoid blinking lights and real candles. Play their favorite music, keep celebrations quiet and relaxed, plan gatherings at the best time of day for them, stick to daily routines and keep outings brief.
If your loved one lives in a facility, consider holding a small family gathering at their home/facility. Familiar surroundings are so important.
It is helpful to visit with family and friends ahead of time regarding any changes. Give them some tips on what may work well during their visit and what changes have taken place with your loved one.
Think about making new traditions with your loved one and encourage family to be a part as well. Whether your loved one still lives with you or is in a care setting, include them in things that they remember. My mother has Alzheimer’s and is no longer able to send out greeting cards on her own, but we will spend an afternoon going through her address book and I write in the name, address, and have Mom sign her name. She is always so proud when we finish and have a nice little stack of cards ready to be mailed.
Don’t forget to take time for you, as the caregiver. If your loved one lives with you, be sure to seek some respite time to be on your own…. spa day, shopping or take a nap. Be ‘ok’ asking for help and be ‘ok’ with doing less, which will create more, in the end for both you and your loved one…less stress and more time to make new memories.