As magical and exciting as this time of year is, it can pose its challenges for those living with dementia. The hustle and bustle of Christmas, change in routine and the pressure of family visits can often be overwhelming.
Therefore, at The Beeches we have put together some tips to help get you through the festive season.
Keeping Christmas simple and familiar
It’s important to keep things simple for someone living with dementia, especially during the Christmas period when many of us feel overwhelmed anyway.
Keeping the day’s activities low-key will help your loved one to relax. It’s a good idea to keep meals at regular times and in familiar surroundings which will help to limit any potential confusion.
If your loved one attends church for their festive services during this time but are unable to, consider online or televised services.
Involve your loved ones with activities on the day
Make sure your loved one feels part of the day by including them in the preparations and activities.
Perhaps they could lay the table, or help chop the veggies. They may even want to add a bauble to the tree or even serve the Christmas pudding. This will also help to bring back those special memories.
It’s easy to get caught up in the Christmas traditions and stick to what you’ve always done over the years, but your Christmas may look different as your loved ones’ dementia progresses.
Although it might seem that planning ahead is the right thing to do. Bear in mind that It’s always worth having a plan B, and be prepared to change your plans if a particular element isn’t working.
Be mindful at Christmas meals
Christmas is typically a time for overindulging. It’s important to remember that eating and drinking can become increasingly difficult as dementia progresses, therefore a full plate can be daunting for someone living with dementia.
Try not to overload your loved one’s plate. The Alzheimer’s society has some great tips to help with eating and drinking on their website.
Bring back old Christmas memories
Sharing memories from the past is a great way to connect with someone with dementia. It helps them to feel valued, contented, and peaceful by recalling happy times.
With dementia, people typically lose short-term memory, but are often still able to recall older memories.
It may be that your relative used to enjoy a classic Christmas film or Christmas song, so be sure to reintroduce them to these things.
Creating a family photo album or memory box could also be a nice way to send time together.
Consider their needs
Christmas day isn’t just about your relative slotting into your day, it’s especially important to consider their needs during this time. If they don’t remember it’s Christmas don’t keep reminding them all the time, as it can cause anxiety.
Christmas day can be a noisy event – try to reduce unnecessary noise such as crackers, loud music or blaring television when people are also talking. A noisy environment can be difficult to process.
A busy day such as Christmas day can be tiring and confusing for a person with dementia, so ensure it is manageable. If you are dropping them home, try to take them home in daylight rather than wait until it gets dark so that they are able to see where they are.
If things aren’t quite perfect, don’t worry, just try and enjoy the day!
At The Beeches, our residents’ mental and physical wellbeing is of the utmost importance. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here. We’re able to support you and offer you as much information as possible as to how we can help you and your relatives.
For more information, visit our website, or call us on 01359 230773.