Holiday Visits with Dementia

christmas-ornament-1042544_1280The Christmas holidays can be a difficult time with dementia or Alzheimer’s, but spending time with loved ones is important to someone suffering from the disease. While they may struggle to remember names, they do enjoy the company. Here are a few tips for gathering with friends and family this holiday season:

  • Speak calmly and normally. There’s no need to shout or speak too loudly – raising your voice can be uncomfortable or stressful for someone with dementia. Equally, using the same tone you would speak to a child with can be confusing. Just speak to your senior loved one in your normal, calm voice. They will find this comforting.
  • Respect space. Large family gatherings can be overwhelming, with everyone crammed into one room. Ensure that your senior loved one can feel comfortable with their personal space not being invaded.
  • Remind them. If your senior loved one forgets who you are, just politely remind them. It’s not their fault and it’s not a reflection on your relationship that they forgot – it’s a disease.
  • Be patient. There will be times where their confusion can lead to flared tempers or bad moods. Be patient, and calmly help them with their confusion or start a new topic of conversation. Remember it can be very frustrating for an older adult to feel so confused because of a disease, so don’t get angry or irritated with them.
  • Don’t over do it. Family gatherings can be very tiring for a senior, so be respectful of their energy and don’t push them to socialise for longer than they feel comfortable.