* reprinted with permission from Dementia Wellington.
Christmas means many things to many people — from food, family and festivities to religious observance and quiet reflection. But for people affected by dementia it can be more difficult. Here are 8 ways you can support people with dementia at Christmas.
There is always so much to consider at Christmas, and that’s especially true for people supporting somebody with dementia. Dementia Wellington have adapted these tips from Alzheimer’s Society UK blog, see here for the full article.
- Put decorations up gradually
Introduce the Christmas environment slowly. Think about putting decorations up gradually over a few days so it doesn’t come as a big change to the person’s usual setting.
- Keep it simple and familiar
Someone with dementia may feel overwhelmed over the Christmas period, so it’s best not to overdo it. Keeping the day’s activities low-key will help your loved one to relax.
If they usually go to church around this time but are unable to, consider online or televised services.
Sticking to a familiar routine is also a good idea where possible. Having meals at regular times and in familiar surroundings will help to limit any potential confusion.
- Get everyone involved
There are many ways to involve people living with dementia at Christmas time – from something as simple as hanging a bauble on the tree to doing a spot of Christmas shopping. Playing Christmas music and singing favourite carols can be a simple way to involve the person in the festivities.
The important thing is that they feel included.
- Create a quiet area
A large number of guests can be overwhelming, so ask family and friends to spread out their visits over the festive period.
If things do get busy, designate one room or space in the home a ‘quiet area’ where your loved one can relax without loud noise. For some people, listening to music on headphones can be a good way to block out the noise.
- Bring back old memories
Whether it’s an old song they used to enjoy or a classic Christmas film, find something you can take part in that is important to the person. Making a family photo album or memory box could be a nice way to spend time together.
Just be careful about people or events the person may not wish to reminisce about.
- Be mindful of food
Although many people eat a lot at Christmas, a full plate can be daunting for someone who has difficulties eating. If you’re doing the serving, try not to overload your loved one’s plate.
- Be flexible
It’s easy to get caught up in Christmas traditions and how things have always been done in the family, but your festive season might begin to look different as dementia progresses. It’s always worth having a plan B and be prepared to change your plans if a particular element isn’t working.
- Plan ahead
If the person with dementia is living in a care home, it can be helpful to ask the home in advance what their plans are for Christmas Day.
Thank you Dementia Wellington for permission to reprint this useful article. For more information on living with (or living with someone who has) Dementia, please visit Dementia Wellington’s website (click here).