With the holidays upon us, it’s that time of year again when families are gathering and everyone is full of warm cheer. However, as anyone who is a caregiver of someone with dementia knows, the holidays can also be a time of stress and confusion for the person you care about who is suffering from a debilitating disease.
As a caregiver, you want to make sure that your loved one is comfortable year round, but there are certain things you can do to ensure that the changes in schedule and an influx of new faces during the holidays have a minimal impact on your loved one’s fragile health and wellbeing.
To help you prepare for the season, here are some holiday planning tips for dementia caregivers:
Prepare Your Loved One for Family. If you can, show your loved one photos of family members and friends who may be coming to the house for holiday festivities. Ensure that he/she knows that there will be more people around, and to not be frightened because these are safe people. If possible, introduce others in small doses, and schedule naps for your loved one to take breaks from the action.
Prepare other family members for your loved one. Educate family and friends about your loved one’s condition. Interactions with someone with dementia can be frustrating if you do not understand the condition, so it’s important that anyone who may be in the home over the holidays has an awareness of how your loved one sees the world.
Plan ahead and anticipate challenges. Being a caregiver means having a plan at all times. Leave extra time for activities and meals, and have a Plan B if your loved one isn’t feeling well.
Activities should be easy for everyone. You don’t want your loved one to feel left out or neglected, so have easy activities for them to participate in such as folding napkins, or helping with decorations. Interaction is important for those with dementia, and it can help make everyone feel more at ease to be active together.
Assign a buddy to your loved one. Safety is important for those with dementia. If you are the main caregiver and are busy preparing the home for a celebration or meal, make sure that you assign someone to watch your loved one. Those with dementia should never be left completely alone.
Avoid heavy travel times. If you are taking your loved one with you to another home or city, avoid heavy travel times, and leave plenty of time in between locations. Too much stimulation can cause your loved one to become anxious and stressed, so it’s important to take your time when traveling, and inform friends or hospitality staff of your loved one’s condition.
Communicate calmly at all times. Make sure you are communicating directly to your loved one, using their name and remaining calm. This will help alleviate any stress related to misunderstanding commands or conversations if there is a lot of commotion around.
Reminisce with your loved one. Many times, dementia patients have trouble remembering current events, but their memory of the past is clear. Include your loved one in the conversation by bringing up topics and memories they can remember and talk to others about.
Rest and take care of yourself. Don’t neglect yourself in the rush of the holidays. You are the best version of a caregiver if you well rested and relaxed. Don’t let the stress of the season wear you down so that you aren’t able to provide care and enjoy your time as well.
Be patient. The biggest thing to remember is to be patient. The holidays can be stressful for just about anyone, so take a deep breath and enjoy extra time with your loved one and other friends and family.
If you are a caregiver of someone with dementia and need extra assistance during the holidays, contact us at 24/7 Nursing Care. We provide professional caregiving and nursing services in the comfort of your home for both short-term and long-term needs. Give us a call for a complimentary in-home consultation at (786) 518-3622
10 Holiday Survival Tips. (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2017, from https://www.alz.org/flgulfcoast/alzheimers_disease_62487.asp
Caregiver Tips for Thanksgiving Dinner. (2017, September 26). Retrieved October 31, 2017, from http://alzheimersocietyblog.ca/thanksgiving-dinner-tips/
Design, M. C. (n.d.). Planning for Thanksgiving. Retrieved October 31, 2017, from http://whiteoakcottages.com/planning-for-thanksgiving/