The holiday season is the traditional time for end of year get-togethers with family members and loved ones. We share food, gifts and most of all, memories. But for those with dementia and their caregivers, the holiday season can be a minefield, one that you will have to navigate through safely. Dementia patients are reassured by routine so can find holidays parties and family dinners confusing. For their caregivers it can be exhausting as they try to balance the demands of their patient with their own needs and desires for a family holiday.
What are some ways that can help to make this time of year easier for both patients and caregivers?
- Use memory to your advantage. For most patients with dementia it is their oldest memories that are the easiest to recall. Play holiday music that they once listened to years ago. Decorate your tree with familiar decorations that may have been passed down through the family. Bring out all the old favourites. Cook familiar dishes for your holiday meal and bake their favourite cookies. You may find that any of these things could set off a spark of memory in your loved one.
- Avoid unfamiliar places. More so than at any other time of the year, this is when your loved one needs familiar places and people. Don’t take them to shopping malls or events where there are a lot of people. Small and intimate gatherings with those closest to them will work the best. If you are having visitors, limit the number to a very few and have them stay for a short period of time.
Make sure you get your rest. Even for those who are not caregivers the holiday season can be exhausting. Attend only the most important gatherings. Remember, for both yourself and your loved one, avoiding stress is important. To read more tips for navigating the holiday season if you are a caregiver, click here.