The holiday season is upon us! If you are caring for a loved one living with dementia, the holiday season can be both wonderful and challenging. It is a great time of the year to engage with your loved one in favorite activities and memories from holidays past, but it can also be difficult to navigate these traditions in new ways that offer the proper support for them.
As you are preparing your shopping lists and hanging decorations, here are a few tips on how to have a good holiday visit with your family members:
1. Locate the Best Setting for a Visit
When planning your visit, figuring out the best place to meet is step number one. Depending on where your loved one is in the progression of their dementia, taking them away from their familiar environment may not be the best.
If a lot of activity and change seems to cause anxiety, sticking around whatever place they call home is usually the best call. If they reside in a senior living community, it may be best to see what holiday activities they have going on there that you could join in on!
2. Limit the Number of People at One Time
We know how much grandparents love seeing their grandkids, but having little Johnny screaming in the car seat while Susie and Mary Jane play chase in grandma’s assisted living apartment is a little much for anyone---let alone someone living with dementia. Having the entire extended family visit at the same time may be overwhelming for your loved one.
The more people, the more sensory information to process, which can be exhausting. It is often better to stick with smaller groups for a shorter amount of time than to have everyone visit all day long. This way, your loved one has time to relax and recover and can still enjoy the time spent with each person.
3. Incorporate their Favorite Past Times
Every family has their own holiday traditions, and I’m sure yours is no different! Whether it’s baking, decorating, or watching Miracle on 34th Street; try to incorporate some of your loved one’s favorite traditions into your time together. Just because they have a diagnosis of dementia, does not mean they want to stop living or enjoying time with the ones they love. That’s what the holidays are all about!
Regardless of the setting or number of people, remember that the holiday season is a special time for families, and your loved one wants to be a part of that in whatever way they can! Taking some time to plan and think about how to make that possible will really go a long way towards everyone having a peace and joy filled holiday.