Alzheimer’s and dementia can add an additional dimension to holiday stress due to the changes in the care recipient’s condition or lack of understanding among family members.
Familiarize others with the situation
Let guests know what to expect before they arrive. Family can help with communication by being patient, not interrupting or correcting, and giving the person time to finish his or her thoughts. Make sure visitors understand that changes in behavior and memory are caused by the disease and not the person. You may find this easier to share changes in a letter or email that can be sent to multiple recipients.
For example: Move gathering to brunch instead of dinner, if evenings are a problem. Try to avoid known triggers.
Involve care recipient
Build on past traditions and memories. Focus on activities that are meaningful to the person with dementia. Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs or looking through old photo albums.
Involve the person in holiday preparation. This could be as simple as having the person measure an ingredient or hand decorations to you as you put them up
Adapt gift giving
Encourage safe and useful gifts for the person with dementia. Diminishing capacity may make some gifts unusable or even dangerous to a person with dementia. If someone asks for gift ideas, suggest items the person with dementia needs or can easily enjoy. Don’t forget to ask for something for yourself.
Celebrating in a Facility
A holiday is still a holiday whether it is celebrated at home or at a care facility. Here are some ways to celebrate together:
- Consider joining your loved one in any facility-planned holiday activities
- Bring a favorite holiday food to share
- Sing holiday songs and ask if other residents can join in
- Read a favorite holiday story or poem out loud