The holidays can be difficult and stressful for caregivers of those with dementia. If your loved one is having a hard time recognizing past traditions and family members, or he or she isn’t feeling well due to his/her condition, it may be hard to watch your loved one suffer when everyone is full of holiday cheer.
It might require a little more creativity, but there are ways that you can try to help your loved one with dementia enjoy the holidays a little bit more this year. Here are some tips for a happier holiday for caregivers and those with dementia.
1. Have a Time Period-Themed Dinner
If your loved one has an easier time remembering past events more so than current ones, it may be hard for them to relate to modern holiday traditions that are not a part of their memory. It might be fun to engage some family or close friends in putting together a time period-themed dinner where you utilize traditions from the past that your loved one will understand. This may inspire your loved one to talk more openly about things they can remember, and help them feel more included in holiday celebrations.
2. Pick a Holiday Activity & Celebrate
If your loved one enjoys caroling or baking Christmas cookies, ensure that you are incorporating his or her favorite activities into your holiday celebrations. Pick a night and engage in their favorite activity. Make sure that the focus is on your loved one being comfortable and enjoying him or herself, and never force an activity on them. However, if they feel that they can participate, it might mean that everyone enjoys the holidays a little more.
3. Make a Meal with Favorite Foods
Your loved one with dementia may become a pickier eater as the disease progresses, meaning that mealtime may be a struggle, especially if you are entertaining other family members or guests. Instead of fighting with your loved one to eat things they don’t like anymore, have a special holiday dinner with all of their new favorite foods. Ensure that the meal meets their dietary restrictions or requirements, but take some time to relax and make sure they have a nice holiday meal made especially for them.
4. Encourage Individual Holiday Events
If you have other family, friends, or children who want to spend time with your loved one during the holidays, it can be overwhelming to have everyone visit at once. However, it’s very important that your loved one have personal interactions with others, as the days can be lonely for those with dementia. Therefore, set up individual meals or meeting times for other family members to visit. Incorporate them into your themed dinner or special meal, but make sure each interaction is small and manageable for your loved one. It will make the holidays a little happier to spread out mini-celebrations, and this will help prevent your loved one from being overwhelmed at one time.
If you are a family caregiver and need some assistance around the holidays, give us a call at 24/7 Nursing Care at (786) 518-3622. Our professional caregivers and companions are trained to assist your loved one who needs care in their comfort of his or her own home. We look forward to helping you celebrate the holidays and enjoy your time together year-round.
Lee-Fay Low A/Prof in Ageing and Health, University of Sydney. (2017, December 05). How best to celebrate Christmas with a person with dementia. Retrieved December 05, 2017, from http://theconversation.com/how-best-to-celebrate-christmas-with-a-person-with-dementia-21110