Family reunions and gatherings offer the perfect moments to reconnect and share some quality time with your loved ones. We know it can also be a difficult and stressful time not only for a caregiver of a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia but for the individuals with a cognitive decline themselves. People affected by these conditions often become confused and agitated if their routines shift, making holiday festivities especially challenging.
Before your next family reunion, keep these tips in mind to create the perfect gathering where you and your loved ones enjoy a comfortable, memorable, time together.
Prepare The Attendees and Let Them Know What to Expect
If some of the family members or friends don’t visit your loved one with dementia often, you should let them know about his or her memory loss. Your elderly parents may not recall some of the visitors and this could create even more confusion for them. Dementia patients sometimes have problems thinking clearly so their behavior could be unpredictable. Make sure every attendee is aware of your loved one’s condition before the gathering.
You can help your elderly parents in recalling who will be at the reunion. Show them photographs of each person who is going to be at the event ahead of time. Writing names on photos while describing each person to them for a few minutes every day may be very helpful to a person with some form of dementia or memory loss.
Create a Safe Environment for a Dementia Patient
Keep in mind that a change in routine and environment is more jolting for dementia patients. They may become more disoriented in family gatherings due to all of the motion, sounds, people, and noise. Try to stay as close to their normal routine as possible. For example, you may keep bathing and eating times on a similar schedule to what they are used to.
You also want to be aware of tripping hazards at the location of the gathering like floor mats, lit candles, and lamp cords. Some decorations can be hazardous for a dementia patient, try to avoid items that look like they could be edible such as artificial fruits or vegetables. Keep in mind that twinkling or flashing lights may confuse or scare an elderly person with dementia. If you’re playing music, you may want to make sure the volume is not too high as well.
During the Gathering
You definitely don’t want to isolate a person with memory loss but try not placing them in areas where multiple conversations and noises are happening. Those situations could be overwhelming for them and cause confusion. Ask family members or friends to keep an eye on your elderly loved ones in case they need anything.
When talking with a dementia patient, try to avoid questions about the future. Long-term memories are easier for them to recall. Also, try to restrict your questions to a couple of options, multiple-option questions could create confusion.
And what’s a good family gathering without a great feast? Keep in mind that food options should be simple and easy to eat for someone with dementia. If you need to cut up the meat for an elderly parent, try to do this before the meal is on the table. Remember, your loved ones are still adults and don’t want to feel like they’re not capable of completing common tasks, especially in front of visitors.
Involve the Person With Dementia in Activities
Older adults love to feel like they are contributing to the gathering! Try to involve them in safe and manageable activities. Maybe they have a recipe to share or activities that remind them of when they were younger. This can be beneficial for a person with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
Your elderly parents can help you in preparing easy meals or setting up the table. The important thing is to let them feel like they are being useful while keeping in mind the stage of dementia they are experiencing.
Ask for Help Whenever You Need To
We know that caring for a loved one with dementia can be exceptionally difficult and stressful. It takes an emotional toll, and sometimes a physical toll, on the caregiver. Try to find moments to relax and enjoy your loved ones and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it. Self-care is essential and ensures that we are able to care for others.
While dementia is a disease that inevitably progresses, studies have shown that being in a familiar environment surrounded by loved ones is an advantage. In-home care referrals for individuals with Alzheimer’s and Dementia are often the best choice for families who want to keep their loved ones close. There are a variety of options available for an in-home care referral for dementia patients. Contact us for a free in-home consultation to learn more about the options for your unique needs at 786-518-3622 Miami-Dade, 954-949-1332 Broward.