The limitations of the COVID pandemic had a tremendous impact on last year’s holiday season, forcing many families to be isolated from each other. Thankfully, this year families have the ability to embrace the chance to safely get together once more. While decking the halls and preparing for visits with loved ones, it’s important to adjust activities for elderly loved ones with dementia to make sure they can enjoy the holiday season to the fullest as well.
These guidelines from our Alton, IL home care team are a good starting place:
Less is more.
Spreading out visits and inviting fewer people at a time rather than one large gathering with the whole family might be easier for the older adult to handle. Overstimulation, an excessive amount of noise, and breaking from routine can result in stress and agitation.
Timing is essential.
Pay close attention to the person’s emotions throughout a typical day. Is the individual more engaged, content, and alert in the early mornings, or later in the afternoon? To the extent you are able, plan get-togethers around that time of day – even if this means breaking a family tradition. A holiday brunch may be easier for the person than an evening dinner party, for example.
Personal space is crucial.
Search for a calm area away from the hustle and bustle of family and friends, and help the older adult retreat to that space if needed. Watch out for early indicators that the senior is feeling stressed out, and have a few relaxing activities at the ready, such as soft music to enjoy, a photograph album for reminiscing, or even a nap.
Before the gathering, put together a list of things the senior specifically likes and responds to, and brainstorm activities that feature those ideas. A loved one who enjoys music (as many with dementia do) might like listening to a grandchild play traditional holiday tunes on the piano while everyone sings along. Someone who enjoys baking can participate in rolling out pie crust or decorating cookies.
Always remember the senior’s patience for holiday visiting. There is nothing wrong with cutting a celebration short when it’s in the older adult’s best interest.
Similarly, keep your own needs in mind. Caring for a senior loved one with dementia isn’t easy, and adding in the additional aspects involved with the holiday season can bring extra anxiety to family caregivers as well.
Morning Glory Home Care, experts in elder care in Alton, IL and nearby areas, provides in-home respite care services that enable family caregivers to take time needed for themselves. We’re here whenever you need a break, including at family functions like holiday parties. Let one of our skilled dementia care staff serve as a companion for a loved one with dementia, making sure all of his or her needs are met throughout the event and letting you fully enjoy family time.