If you have a family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s, the holidays can be a bittersweet yet often stressful time of year. You want to keep things as “normal” as possible, but you also realize you need to adjust your activities to meet the needs of your loved one.
There are a number of activities you and your loved one can enjoy to spend quality time together and also to help make the holidays more enjoyable for everyone.
Decking The Halls—Together
Whether it’s wrapping presents, hanging decorations or setting up your family’s nativity scene, decorating for the holidays is a fun, simple task that can be enjoyed across generations. Keep in mind that you should try to blend seasonal rituals into your loved one’s normal routine, which will help reduce stress and make the holiday activities much more enjoyable.
Blinking lights or certain electronic devices may confuse a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s, so be aware of how they are reacting to each activity.
Celebrate With Activities They Already Love
If your dad likes to watch basketball, consider having a small group of family members over to watch the Pacers, Boilermakers or Hoosiers on TV. If your grandmother enjoys baking, you could pull out one of her world-famous cookie recipes and work together in the kitchen, just like she’s done dozens of times before.
Their Old Familiar Carols Play
Listening to holiday favorites can help your loved one connect with positive and deep-seated memories of Christmases and holiday seasons past. Pull out your favorite holiday CD or find a Holiday channel on Spotify or Pandora. It’s best to focus your playlist on the classics (Bing, Nat, Burl), because it will help stir up good memories. Plus, you can’t go wrong with any of those famous crooners.
Repeatable Tasks, Repeatable Memories
Memory care research has shown that repetitive activities can have a soothing and calming effect for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Whether it’s stringing popcorn, making paper chains for the Christmas tree, even cracking walnuts and separating the pieces into a bowl. These types of activities have been shown to create a sense of accomplishment and pride.
A Visit From Young Family Members
If you’re fortunate enough to have nieces and nephews or grandkids living nearby, the holidays can be a good time to bring the generations together. Be sure you talk with the children about Alzheimer’s or dementia ahead of time so they understand what to expect and how they should act.
Whatever you do, it’s important that you and your family have realistic expectations. Set limits and communicate them beforehand with all of your family members. The fact that you are together at the holidays is the most important thing, memories to be cherished for years to come.
American Senior Communities offers a person-centered, wellness-based model of dementia care with our Auguste’s Cottage program and our assisted living memory care apartments. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a tour.
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