Bringing together family at the holidays is usually a cause for celebration, but with those who have family members that suffer from Dementia, it can cause anxiety and stress thinking about how to accommodate that person and make everyone feel welcome and comfortable. Senior Helpers Charleston has put together a short list of helpful holiday tips to overcoming a stressful holiday with love, patience, and a plan.
Host your dinner at an earlier time in the day, when the sun is still up. Evenings can be confusing for those suffering from Dementia, so having your dinner a little earlier with natural light available will help ease that confusion. If you are unable to host an earlier dinner, make sure your space is well lit and keep curtains closed.
If your relative’s abilities warrant, ask for help with the cooking and decorating for the holiday dinner. Even just including them by having them sit nearby and watch the preparations will make them feel included and will remind them of what celebration is being celebrated.
Dedicate an area of the house as a quiet room with a hands-on activity. Activities and a quiet space will help make a fun task to keep your relatives busy. This room and activity will also help rally rambunctious children.
A great idea for an activity is to make Christmas decorations. Get creative with paper crafts or popsicle sticks – just keep in mind your relative’s fingers may not have the dexterity they once did and this could be a cause for frustration. So keep your activity simple and lighthearted.
Try to ask your relative questions about the past. These are questions he or she is more likely to remember and will have an easier time answering. It might also help your relative feel welcome to be able to tell stories that people are interested in hearing.
Be sure to fill in all of your guests on your plans. Share some conversation tips from your relative’s past that they can ask in conversation. And be sure everyone is aware of the dedicated activity space. This includes preparing children for how to interact with someone suffering from dementia and explaining what dementia is.
As always, if you have any questions, be sure to give Senior Helpers Charleston a call. We serve Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Daniel Island, Sullivan’s Island, and the Isle of Palms, South Carolina.