Tips for Caring for Dementia During the Holidays

Tips for Caring for Dementia During the Holidays
Caring for Dementia During the Holidays

As the bright colors of fall foliage begin to crisp in the cold, and warm aromas fill our homes with holiday cheer -- there’s no denying it: the holiday season is here! What better way to show those around us how much we love them than by gathering together during these special times? Holidays give us a chance to reminisce on beloved memories that have been made throughout our lives.

But for many who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's disease, holidays are even more meaningful. They provide an opportunity to look back upon distant yet cherished moments - bringing joy and comfort into their lives. For their family caregiver, the caregiving journey is challenged with unrealistic expectations and stress . Everyday tasks can become challenging as the disease progresses.

Whether you take part in treasured traditions such as decorating cookies with your grandparent or making homemade cards for Mom.  Creating beautiful new memories each season can offer enormous benefits.  Spending quality time and socializing with someone diagnosed early-to-middle stages of Alzheimer's Disease or other types of  dementia care can help slow the progression of the disease.

Someone with Dementia Is Living in the Present

Trompenburg Tuinen & Arboretum
Caring for Dementia 

As family members, we may need reminding that a person with dementia is living in their own world. That means it's up to us to make our worlds theirs. They are living in the present and focused more on the emotional connections than memories of the past. In the middle stages to late stage of dementia, they no longer have a short term memory. They are losing their ability to remember things from the past.

As dementia progresses, caregivers should focus on communicating through touch, It is important to speak slowly and use a reassuring tone. Remember, people with dementia pick up on your emotions. If you are stressed or frustrated, they will feel anxious and respond to your emotions.

Make communication easier and use these communication strategies during holiday visits will promote a sense of connection and satisfaction for all involved. Connecting can be as simple as starting off conversations with questions like "How have you been feeling today?" or "Would you like some eggnog right now?".

Dementia Care and the Decision Making Process

Outdoor champagne in the evening
Caring for Dementia 

When you're spending time with a loved one who is living with an Alzheimer's disease diagnosis, it's best to focus on the present rather than attempt to remember events from past. Make communication easier and use simple one or two word sentences. Avoid giving multiple choices. Instead, offer one thing. If they decline, offer another choice. Keeping it simple makes life easier.

Invite them to join in simply observing nature and its wonders. If they are still able to walk, or go for a ride, getting outside for some fresh air and sunshine. It improves their well being and can lift their mood.

There is nothing like a ride to see the holiday lights to lift spirits. Make sure you allow short breaks on outings and make sure that home safety is addressed to prevent falls. Holiday decorations may upset the person with dementia as their familiar environment is different to them. Oh, make sure they have any assistive devices as a safety feature when you are out and about. Make sure you give your loved one a short break if they need one.

While enjoying these 'here and now' moments, this could trigger happy memories that your loved one may choose to share. This is only possible in the early stages of dementia. As the disease progresses, communication skills will deteriorate over time.

Making Meaningful Connections With Communication Skills

Dementia Care and the Power of Touch

Every moment brings us the potential for a meaningful connection - something we could uniquely share. Our other family member with dementia deserves to experience all that this holiday season has to offer. So let's come together and do what we can!

Many families along with the family caregiver, need to learn about the changes that occur as the disease progresses. This will strengthen our ability both understand and support each other better than ever before. It improves everyones caregiving skills. Joining local support groups may help to help with local resources and answer caregivers concerns, as the disease progresses.

As difficult as it may be, dementia care requires patience and flexibility. Maintaining a positive attitude even during times of frustration can help create an environment that is both welcoming to those visiting and respectful towards the person living with Alzheimer's dementia. Keeping your loved ones personal activities and daily routine is important to decreasing the chances of unwelcome behaviors.

Remind other family members who come from out-of-town that their loved one’s dementia has changed how they communicate. Everyone should honor this fact in order to make visits pleasant experiences. no matter what stage your family member’s condition may be in.

Caring for a person with dementia can be an emotional rollercoaster. Although it is important that the caregiver prepare family members ahead of time about what behavior to expect.  Your loved ones living with dementia may still experience moments of frustration and anger that you should try not take personally. Someone with dementia does not have the ability to     personally  attack anyone.

It's possible the angry outburst has been caused by other medical disorders affecting our bodies causing physical pain or discomfort. Aging causes us all some level of soreness and ache as our bodies become less resilient over time. Unfortunately, when verbal communication skills start deteriorating due to memory loss issues, understanding why temper flares up becomes more difficult making patience even more vital.

It is important to pay attention to body language, as dementia . When providing personal care, it a caregiver notices facial wincing or guarded movements, it may be due to pain. You may want to set up medical appointments to be evaluated.

Warning Signs of Dementia Behaviors

My mom and her protectress, i love them …
Dementia Behaviors 

The truth of such troubling behavior should be understood as part of a larger picture - physical pain due to aging can often cause disruption and discomfort in those suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Explaining this reality ahead of time with visiting family members helps them understand how their patience will prove necessary for a successful visit.

When caring for a loved one who is struggling with dementia, it can be difficult to understand why they have episodes of anger. It's important that family members recognize this loss of control, caused by fear and frustration due to loss of problem solving skills. These conflicting emotions can pop up at any time. Trying your best not take these outbursts personally when in fact you are only trying to help them through this tough period—acceptance is key!

Navigating the emotions of a loved one with Alzheimer's can be challenging, it’s just part of their journey. Caregivers should focus on creating positive memories ,when they do arise.

The Benefits of Touch

Dementia Care and Power of Touch

Touch is an invaluable way of expressing emotion and strengthening relationships. Hugs to welcome people home, hands on shoulders for deep talks - it all conveys love in the most meaningful manner.

For caregivers providing dementia care, particular care should be taken when initiating communication as this can prevent startling them or causing fear. A gentle touch before speaking may do wonders to settle them into conversation . As dementia progresses, much of your connection will come from non-verbal gestures so take full advantage now!

As dementia progresses, it is important, and can be very comforting, for the person with dementia receive physical affection from those they care about. A gentle tap on the shoulder or holding hands before speaking helps signal that something good is coming their way.

Even if verbal communication becomes difficult later down the line, tenderness through human contact remains ever-present – reminding us all of its power throughout every stage of this caregiving journey!

Gathering to celebrate with your family this holiday season can be a special time, especially for those living with dementia. Before visiting ,take some time to discuss ways of connecting through touch and physical contact so that everyone has an enjoyable visit!

Open communication will help create meaningful experiences during visits with one another - especially those living with dementia.

So no matter what mental challenges arise, you can always share some quality time together as loved ones

Even though the challenges of communicating with a loved one who is living with dementia can be difficult, remember that their love and support are still there.

Despite the unpredictable nature of this condition, we believe everyone deserves happiness - especially during times spent as a family over the holidays. Cherish every moment together and take comfort in knowing that their love has helped shape who you've become today.

Adjusting to new ways of communication can take some time.

Have Realistic Expectations

I took this image through my window on a very cold and snowy morning.
Dementia Care and Expectations

Though the effects of a  dementia diagnosis may vary from person to person, we hope this holiday season will be filled with moments for families to come together and enjoy each other's company, no matter how different it looks compared before.

This holiday season, it's not about the picture-perfect traditions you may think of when hearing "enjoying the holidays". Instead, focus on how your loved ones are feeling and make sure to forgive for any mistakes that were made.

When supporting a family member with dementia during these times, here are some useful tips: Be forgiving (to both you AND your loved one with dementia), keep conversations lighthearted & engaging throughout celebrations, providing comfort over being wholly focused on entertainment or activities.  Adjust expectations as needed depending on their state of mind/mood changes day to day; provide loving reassurance before making any decisions which involve change from normal routines.

Preparing Your Loved One With Dementia for Family Gatherings.

Best friends
Communication with Dementia Patient

When preparing a loved one with dementia for family gatherings, in the early stages you still have an opportunity to discuss ways to enjoy the holidays that are comfortable and familiar. However, as their condition progresses it is up to you, the caregiver, to create situations where confusion or aggression can be prevented. This is accomplished by pre planing activities and preparing guests beforehand. You know your loved one's needs best; do what feels right!

Tips to Help Your Loved One With Dementia Enjoy the Holidays

The Strength of Age
Dementia Caregivers

This holiday season, it's not about the picture-perfect traditions you may think of when hearing "enjoying the holidays". Instead, focus on how your loved ones are feeling. Allow yourself to forgive mistakes, embrace patience over perfectionism, and cherish meaningful moments together.

When supporting a family member with dementia during these times, here are some useful tips:

Keep conversations lighthearted & engaging throughout celebrations.

Providing comfort over being wholly focused on entertainment or activities. Focus on safety concerns, by adding safety features if necessary with the holiday decorations.

Adjust expectations, as needed, depending on their state of mind/mood changes day to day.

Provide loving reassurance before making any decisions, which involve change from normal routines.

Allow yourself the grace to enjoy the holidays with a loved one who has dementia. The season is about compassion, kindness and connection; remember that mistakes can be made but are insignificant when compared to these larger values.

Look for creative ways of connecting like enjoying movies together or starting an ongoing jigsaw puzzle so your loved one and you can continue building on it every time they visit!

Remember, your loved one with dementia is living in the here and now. They can no longer remember their past. Are unable to look to the future. They are living in the here and now. They often rely on visual cues when communicating.

Strive to include your loved one in activities, no matter their level of care needed.

Ask them to help you out on simple tasks that they can manage and encourage connection between the two of you through stories from days gone by.

As time progresses, a comforting gesture or kind words will let them know they're still very much part of your life.

Make sure to show your love and care for a loved one dealing with an illness by finding ways to make them feel involved in simple tasks, valuable conversations, or simply through comforting touch.

Playing  Games

Dementia Activities 

Inviting them into these activities can help build special moments of understanding and connection that you can cherish. Play games to improve brain health.

Offer emotional support through reassurance when words don’t come easily.

Spend part of each day prioritizing your self-care, tuning into what makes you feel loved and appreciated. This allows us to be kinder, more patient people that give our partners the appreciation they deserve; a gift we’d love in return!

Make this year truly special by focusing on what is important to you and your loved one. Every holiday will bring new challenges as the illness progresses, so it may be time to say goodbye to some activities that take away from shared moments together.

Why not turn everyday into a cherished moment with simple gestures .You don't need fancy decorations - create memories through meaningful interactions!

Make the most of your time by investing in moments that really matter this year. As loved ones struggle with their health, create memories and stay connected during special holidays instead of taking on additional commitments or tasks.

Start your day by reflecting on what is most valuable to you this year.

Free up some extra space in your schedule and choose meaningful experiences over additional commitments.

Modifying Traditions for Safety Concerns

This elderly woman was in the process of preparing a fresh fish on her clean kitchen counter. Carefully using a large knife, the woman had cut into the fish’s belly, and would subsequently extract the internal organs prior to finally cutting away the fillets.
Early Stage Dementia

This holiday season, don't forget to take into account the needs of those living with Alzheimers's disease and dementia. Although it may involve modifying some beloved traditions and toning down decorations in order to create a safe and calming space for them, there are still meaningful ways to celebrate!

Electric candles can be used as an alternative to burning candles, ensuring that everyone enjoys the festivities safely.

During the holidays, caregivers can make changes to create a safe and calm space for those with dementia. This could involve toning down decorations by replacing bright blinking lights with warm electric candles or avoiding decorative displays that cause clutter in familiar rooms.

The holidays are an emotional time for families and caregivers, especially when caring for a loved one with dementia. This year, try to create meaningful moments while considering their needs throughout decorations and gatherings.

To do so in the safest way possible. Avoid clutter-causing decor that requires you to rearrange familiar rooms too much.

Enjoy familiar holiday tunes to create a peaceful atmosphere. Set the volume of your favorite music according to what feels most relaxing for you!

Adapting Holiday Activities for Your Loved One with Dementia

The Night City Tango
It was something unreal, something from another world, a piece of past and forgotten epoch. It looked like you trapped in a time machine. Among the crowded streets of Lviv city, we ran into the small platform filled by light and nice music. About five pairs were dancing tango on that. Slowly, sensual, savoring with every movement. There wasn’t artists, just ordinary people who prefer body language than words. The show was stunning.
Dementia Patient Activities 

Make the holidays special for a loved one living with dementia! Try to focus on activities that are familiar and meaningful, while keeping disruptions at bay.

Consider playing games that promote brain health. Research suggests that playing board games, word games, dice games and even video games can delay the progression of dementia.

Consider baking together, opening holiday cards or making decorations as tasks geared towards shared enjoyment. Baking cookies and decorations together is a great way to focus on enjoying the task instead of worrying about perfection

When hosting small gatherings of close friends & family, create an environment that is quiet yet inviting.

During longer outings such as visits with relatives be sure to keep trips brief so your friend/family member doesn't feel overwhelmed by changes in their routine.

Last but not least consider reading stories they love or looking through old photo albums, which can bring up fond memories from years past.

Provide them a place of their own if you're expecting guests, so they have a quiet calm area to retreat to when things get busy or to much activity for your loved one with dementia.

Keep outings brief so that fatigue doesn't set in!

Take the time to enjoy quality moments with your loved one this holiday season by engaging in enjoyable and dementia-friendly activities.

Older adults with dementia will find stringing a beautiful garland of popcorn or berries familiar objects form their childhood.  Take time to  link some delightful paper chains, make special wreaths and gifts together all while listening to festive music!

Baking cookies with a family member is also an excellent way spend time - don't forget that it's not just about making something delicious but being able share memories as you work on fun creations. You might want to consider offering finger foods or other easy to carry nutritious foods, such as fruit, to make sure your loved one with dementia does not become irritable.

Reading classic stories can add extra merriment into your day; what better way mark the holidays than celebrating faith and joy?

Make the holidays special for a person with dementia by working together to prepare, host safe and quiet gatherings, provide uninterrupted daily routines, give them space of their own if you are expecting company and engage in meaningful activities.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Emergency Placement for Dementia Patients

Be prepared for your next unexpected visit to the hospital. Taking a few precautions before emergencies occur can help make stressful situations less daunting and ensure that you're able to get timely treatment when needed. Create an up-to-date file with all relevant information including diagnosis of chronic medical conditions, test results, allergies, medications being taken currently etc., so you have it ready in case there's ever any need!

Keep this organized folder easily accessible at home or on cloud storage - It will be such a relief if something does come up unexpectedly! You want to make health care decisions in a timely fashion or have to set up in home care.

Preparing Your Holiday Visitors

Connecting with a loved one who has dementia during the holidays can be an enriching experience, but it's important to make sure they are prepared.

When coming together, to honor a loved one with dementia around the holiday season, it can be helpful to have an open discussion beforehand. Consider setting up a virtual group chat where you can discuss what is important for everyone visiting; such topics may include understanding the stage of their condition, how daily routines are integral in dementia care and ensuring patience during conversations without correcting or questioning them.

Setting clear expectations and boundaries before a family gathering can help ensure an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Ensure visitors have all of the necessary knowledge and supplies before their arrival.

Offer advice on how best to communicate - like not being critical of repeated or mistaken comments and allowing the person enough time speak before intervening – so everyone can get the most out of their shared moments together.

Encourage positive interaction through suggesting activities ahead of time like bringing along old photos or planning structured recreational events for everyone to enjoy!

Don’t forget about gift-giving. Making sure presents chosen hit safety standards but also provide appropriate stimulation based on their cognitive level is key! Maintaining realistic expectations of the gathering will help ensure that even if things don't go according to plan, there are still meaningful experiences shared between all those involved.

Celebrating in Nursing Homes

Our granny got ninety and all her grandchildren could send her were a few clips on youtube.
Middle Stage Dementia 

Make celebrations special for your loved one living in a nursing home  or assisted living facility.  Schedule small family gatherings on different days to reduce the disruption and stress of unfamiliar faces.

Consider participating in the resident holiday activities offered by their home as well to bring familiarity and extra joy!

Practice Self Care

Dementia Caregivers Practice Self Care

Taking the time to prioritize, delegate, and plan ahead can help you make the most of this holiday season.

Don't be afraid to trust your instincts when it comes to setting boundaries in order for yourself some well deserved personal time!

The holidays can become difficult when caregiving responsibilities are added into the mix.  Focus on what is most important to you, as a caregiver.  Delegate tasks where possible.  Set realistic expectations with others.  So they know exactly how much support they may or may not need from you.

Don't forget to take some 'me' time too.  Let someone else cover duties every now and again so that both of you get the chance to relax during this festive period!

Trusting your instincts will go along way in helping create a pleasant holiday experience for all   Keep in mind that perfect holiday gatherings may not always be possible. There is still plenty of opportunity for fun during get-togethers. The road ahead on your caregiver journey will be challenging. Having realistic expectations will help as Alzheimer's disease advances.