When family gatherings approach, our focus should be on the happiness and excitement of looking forward to seeing our loved ones who we may not see often enough. However, if someone in the family has been recently diagnosed with dementia, a family gathering can become a time of great concern for the caregiver. Family members who have not seen their new condition may find it upsetting; confusion for the individual with dementia can be overwhelming; and the stress of the added task of caregiver can take away from a time that should be only filled with the joy of family time. If you are a caregiver of someone with dementia, don’t let your new situation keep the two of you from valuable family time. Here are some tips to enjoy your family gathering this year:
- Routine: One of the most important things in caring for someone with dementia is sticking to your routine. The most confusing part about holidays or family reunions can be getting away from routine. Try to keep your day on the usual schedule for the individual suffering from dementia, including meals and visiting times.
- Prep your family: Let everyone know the updated condition of their loved one. If it is likely that the individual you care for will forget names, let your family know so they won’t be upset and they can aid your loved one. Also tell them the amount of dependence they now have on you, and ask for some assistance so you can also take part in family activities.
- Delegate: Perhaps you always cook, or host out of town guests in your house. Now that you are a caregiver, don’t plan to take on the same amount of duties in addition. Delegate some tasks out to other family members.
- Prepare: If your loved one with dementia lives in a retirement community or senior home and doesn’t often go out for visits, try a few short visits out of the home first before a big family gathering. Taking an individual with dementia out of their routine and environment can be confusing and upsetting, so test the waters first.
- Ask for help: Your family is gathered and this is the perfect time for you to let everyone know about your duties as a caregiver. If you aren’t making enough time for yourself, or are unable to, now is the time to tell your family and ask for help.