Holidays can be a source of comfort and stress for both a person with dementia and their caregivers.
The key to navigating dementia and the holidays is to find your balance and be open about what you and your loved one need.
Read on for Kensington Place Redwood City’s tips for creating the most meaningful and enjoyable visits with your loved one with dementia over the holiday season.
How to prepare for holiday gatherings
For an older adult with dementia, holiday traditions may be soothing and familiar, yet overwhelming and confusing.
Family caregivers may feel anxious about communicating their limits to the rest of the family while honoring their loved one’s needs.
If you’re choosing to host or attend a family and friend holiday gathering with your loved one, plan ahead to prepare both yourself and your family members for the visit.
Understand your limits and set boundaries
As a caregiver, the first step to creating a calm, happy holiday season is to understand what you are capable of doing and communicate this clearly to the rest of the family.
Consider gathering the family via email, video chat, or a group text and explaining how your needs and the needs of your loved one have changed over the past year.
Did you always make the Thanksgiving turkey or a special holiday dessert, but that’s now too much to take on? Explain this to your family and ask for help in accomplishing those tasks if the family would still like these items.
You may be surprised to see how other people step up to help once they understand your needs and limits, but at the very least, you have explained what you’re able to do so you can move forward with greater peace of mind.
Caregiver burnout is possible at any time of year, but especially during the busy holiday season. Make sure you practice self-care so that you’re able to provide the best care to your loved one.
Kensington Place Redwood City provides wellness tips and resources for caregivers in our Kensington Konnect hub.
Update your holiday guests
Some of your family members may not have seen your loved one since the last holiday season, and a lot can change in a year.
If your loved one has received a new Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis or is exhibiting new or worsening symptoms, explain to the rest of the family what to expect so they can approach your loved one appropriately.
Prior to holiday plans, send a photo of your loved one with an update on their health, the activities they currently enjoy, and any notes on their communication or memory struggles.
Help your family understand that they may need to be a bit more patient in communicating with your loved one with dementia, and offer tips to communicate more effectively.
Providing these tips and updates will help your family members prepare, and will result in less stress and confusion for everyone involved.
Alternative activities for the holiday season
Remember, you don’t have to attend any holiday activities if you or your loved one are unable to do so safely. COVID-19 and the flu are legitimate reasons to skip a holiday event.
Whether you decide to attend or not, here are some ideas for alternative holiday-themed activities you and your loved ones can share.
Share a baking day
Scents and sounds are soothing gifts for people living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Spend the day baking favorite holiday treats, and include your loved one in the mixing, tasting, or measuring. Your loved one also may choose to just sit with you in the kitchen while you bake.
In the earlier stages of dementia, your loved one may be able to recall past events more easily than recent events.
Discuss old family recipes with your loved one, and ask about cherished food traditions if your loved one seems to enjoy talking about the past.
Create a soothing holiday music playlist
Familiar holiday music can be comforting to a person with dementia.
Create a holiday playlist with your loved one’s favorite tunes from the past and present.
Loud music can be irritating, so be aware of the volume to minimize stress.
Decorate your home together
Holiday decorations may boost the spirit of your loved one.
Work alongside your family member to hang up holiday lights and simple decorations in their living space and around the home.
Later on, pull out photo albums and enjoy a day of reliving happy memories.
Host a holiday movie marathon
What is your loved one’s favorite holiday movie?
Make a list of the best holiday movies and invite a few family members over for a marathon.
A simple movie marathon is also a great alternative event to allow others to spend time with their loved ones in a familiar setting with appropriate social distancing.
Support a local charity
Support a local charity or family in need for the holidays. Shop for clothing, food, or other items to donate, and allow your loved one to help you choose the items.
Giving back during the holidays may help them feel purposeful.
How memory care communities like Kensington Place Redwood City make spirits merry and bright during the holiday season
Caring for a family member with dementia during the holidays can be difficult, but Kensington Place Redwood City is here to help.
At Kensington Place, Our Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own.
Our community understands how memory loss affects not only the person living with it but their friends and family as well.
We offer specialized memory care services that consider the degree of memory loss, the comfort and safety of the individual, and how we can enhance their quality of life.
Our services include:
- Specialized memory care team
- Nutritious, gourmet dining
- Rehabilitation, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy
- Life enrichment events, including small-group Pocket Programming based on resident talents and interests
- Two memory care “neighborhoods,” Connections and Haven, which cater to your loved one’s specific degree of memory loss
- Expert resources and events for residents and families affected by memory loss
- On-site licensed nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Kensington Place is your partner in memory care—especially during the challenging holiday season.
Whether you and your loved one are ready to transition to memory care or not, our team will be with you every step of the way.
Lean on us for support, and allow us to help you celebrate holidays in whatever ways you and your loved ones choose.