Keeping the Jolly in the Holiday
A Caregiver’s Guide to When a Family Member has Dementia
Our Friends at Elderday Center in Batavia are a great resource for families with Dementia related issues. Enjoy these tips from the Elderday Center to make your holiday with a loved one with dementia go smoother.
- Schedule your holiday celebration at a time when your loved one is most awake and alert. Avoid late afternoons or evenings if they are sundowners. Consider a brunch or lunch gathering.
- Limit the length of time that your loved one needs to be at a gathering to enjoy the festivities. Allow them an early, graceful exit before they become overtired or overwhelmed.
- Food is an important part of the holidays. The sense of family, and the smells and traditions involved in food preparation are part of the memories and celebration. Create an opportunity for your loved one to participate by giving them a comfortable space to work within a small group and a simple sorting or stirring activity.
- Limit the size of your event. If your normal family gathering involves a large number of people, children and/or pets, you may consider scheduling one or more separate, more intimate celebrations for your loved one with dementia. Music can invoke holiday memories and feelings of warmth and happiness. Create playlists of songs that are relaxing, reminiscent or more celebratory. Be aware that background music (especially if it is loud) may be distracting and irritating to someone with dementia.
- Know that you may need to explain the special needs of your loved one to family and friends who are unfamiliar with their condition and to small children who may not understand. It is appropriate for them to re-introduce themselves and ask open-ended questions.
- Create a quiet space if the individual with dementia becomes overwhelmed, and for some reason, cannot leave the event. Allow them to sit and enjoy some one-on-one time with a trusted friend or family member, and a relaxing activity like a puzzle.
Caregivers need to know their limits and ask for help when they need it. Seek professional help if you experience feelings of guilt, depression, hopelessness or burn-out. It is important that you take care of your own physical and mental health. You may consider options for respite care in your community.
Gift suggestions for someone with dementia include:
-family photos in albums
-adult coloring books, large jigsaw puzzles
-stuffed animal, soft blanket or throw
-objects to sort such as beads, nuts, bolts, earrings…
-a large calendar to record family visits and activities
-an electronic key finding device
For more information about the Elderday Center and the services they provide, please visit their website at https://www.elderdaycenter.org/
For asssitance with long-term care planning for a loved one with dementia, contact a certified elder law attorney, such as Linda Strohschein and her team at Strohschein Law Group. To set up an appointment, contact Strohschein Law Group at 630-377-3241.