During the early stages of Alzheimer's, the senior experiencing these changes still has some familiarity with their memory and recall. They are also capable of appreciating the holiday season and regular routines. For many, the holidays and their respective colors, decorations, music, and themes provide a deeply comforting sense of enrichment. The holidays are so deeply entrenched in a senior loved one's memories that they can celebrate and find some reassurance in them.
Connect with Guests Ahead of Time
During the early stages of Alzheimer's, a senior will likely identify guests and other visitors correctly. It's still helpful to prepare them for potential visitors or people they don't see frequently. A quick chat with them about the visitors or using Facetime or other technology will remind the seniors about more details surrounding the person and reduce their anxiety levels. By doing this before the visit, the senior is less likely to experience confusion or distress and will exhibit better recall. This also gives caregivers an opportunity to show family and friends how the senior is doing ahead of time. This allows them to take stock of themselves emotionally and meet their senior loved one where they're at.
Maintain Safety and Routine
Routine is one key facet that helps seniors cope with memory loss. When persons over the age of 65 struggle with memory, it's easy to remind them with photos and media. There are plenty of holiday films and music to revive a senior's interest in the season or show them what to expect. In general, the holidays and memorabilia associated with them are designed to make people feel comfortable. Activities like decorating and showing them pictures of their family during happy times will help them feel safe.
Create a Sense of Belonging
For seniors struggling with the early stages of Alzheimer's, remember that the holidays are an inclusive time of the year and that means a senior can enjoy a deeper sense of acceptance. The senior is coping with changes in how they view themselves, their lives, and how their mind is functioning.
The holidays are important for seniors struggling with identity issues. While their identity may have changed, decorations and songs remain the same. Celebrating the holidays how the senior prefers or has done so in the past will help them maintain a sense of normalcy.
One stressor for people living with Alzheimer's is that too much activity or variation in the routine can frighten or overwhelm them. To avoid this, introduce the holiday season and themes slowly and provide a quiet place for the senior. However, keep in mind that many seniors need moderate levels of amusement in their lives and simply making accommodations for them will alleviate the potential stressors.
Increased Level of Fun
Although the elderly change over time and many people become more somber as they live, they still need to have excitement and fun in their life. The holidays are important because even the most serious seniors need a break and distraction. By celebrating the holidays, the seniors have a safe and familiar way to socialize and have fun with their family, friends, or caregivers.
Senior Helpers® is happy to help guide our senior loved ones through this holiday season in the Greater Los Angeles Area. We work in the suburbs of Ventura County as well, with offices in Oxnard, Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks, and Westlake Village. Contact us for more details about companionship and care for those living with Alzheimer's.