Caring for someone with dementia? The best way for both of you to avoid holiday stress

It’s Thanksgiving week and we have started feeling the excitement of the holiday season. We’re ready to gather with family and friends and enjoy parties, cooking, decorating and more. It’s supposed to be a joyful time but unfortunately, it can bring extra stress for many including those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias and their caregivers.  What’s the best way to avoid holiday stress for everyone involved?

Keeping it real

The holidays can still be a fun and special time for everyone. Adjusting your expectations and modifying some of your traditions to offer a safe and calm space for your loved one will be beneficial. This may include simplifying your decorations by avoiding blinking lights and additional holiday ‘clutter’. Also, be careful of using real candles and consider substituting them for electric.

Your loved one can enjoy the holidays by participating in familiar traditions. Prepare simple recipes together and create cards and artwork. Taking the time to look at photo albums and recount stories are also a personal way to celebrate together.

Other Helpful Tips

The Alzheimer’s Association offers the following guidelines to minimize discomfort during this time of year.

  1. Prepare the person with dementia by discussing the holidays.
  2. Engage family members or friends to host a holiday event.
  3. Eliminate agitation by scheduling appropriate times for celebrations.
  4. Minimize the stress of travel by up-front planning; keep things simple.
  5. Plan for wheelchairs, quiet spaces or anything that might help.
  6. Minimize confusion by preparing everyone for the visitors.
  7. Keep to traditional, familiar, and safe activities for your loved one.
  8. Prepare visitors with an honest update and tips for communication with the person who has dementia.
  9. Suggest gift ideas that are comfortable and uncomplicated.
  10. Prepare a quiet room for naps and to keep your loved one from being overwhelmed.
  11. When decorating your home, avoid flashing lights. Make room for mobility aids.
  12. Properly place the person with dementia to ensure comfort and assign one person to keep an eye out for safety.
  13. Take care of yourself and keep your own spirits high during the holiday season.

Hurley Elder Care Law’s Care Coordinators often work with our families to suggest tips for getting through this exciting but often worrisome time. Call us at 404-843-0121 to discuss concerns about your loved one with dementia.


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