For many of us, the holidays are one of the few times that the whole family can travel to be together for a few days each year. For families living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it may be a difficult year as the person who has been part of so many previous years’ celebrations is different now. It can be hard to know how to communicate with them, and upsetting to see them so changed, but spending time together is important and having their family around and all of the joyful memories that the holiday season provokes will be a huge boost for them. If you’re feeling apprehensive about the holidays with dementia this year, we understand. 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 overdo 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.
Contact Serenity Home Care, the leading caregiver in Victoria and the surrounding areas, for more tips on making the most of the holidays with dementia.