Celebrating the Holidays with your Dementia Loved One
I was at one of my monthy meetings today and the subject was about celebrating the Holidays with your loved one who is suffering with Dementia..(Alzheimer disease)...and I just wanted to pass on some of the advice that we were given.
Stress can be avoided if you are the one caring for the loved one. Even if they are in a Home (other then yours) it is important to understand what precautions to take.
Avoid using decorations that look like candy, fruits or any food item...because they may try to eat them..It happens. Also make sure throw rugs are picked up or at least have a rubber backing. And make sure there are no electric cords on the floor where one might trip.
Try to celebrate in a familiar place...this will eliminate any confusion or fears that might be associated with strange places.
Try to keep the group smaller, because too many people can become overwhelming. So if you are having a lot of company...it may be best to have your loved one with you for the dessert time or the before dinner snacks. They really usually aren't big eaters.
Also to plan the celebration around the best time of the day for your loved one. My mom does good for a 2 hour period and is best in the late morning...or sometimes in the earlier afternoon. When it starts to get dark she is ready for sleep.
Try not to decorate your house all at once. This can confuse the individual..let them help with each process ( if living with you) .One room at a time isn't so scarey for them. (So they don't go to bed and wake up in a different house?)
If you are going outside the home it is best to check ahead for accessibility, not all homes or gathering places are appropriate.
Have a backup plan if it doesn't work? Have someone willing to take them back home or to the Insititution they may be living in.
Some elderly people don't enjoy the noises and laughter that many children make. And having too many people talking can be very agitating and confusing to them. They are unable to think about several things at one time..So speak slowly and in small phrases and with hand motions, also look them in the eyes...many read lips well if they have hearing problems or a hard time making connections. Be patient and also educate family and friends as to what is realistic.
Keep it simple and enjoy a peaceful Holiday.
"Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse."...henry van dyke