The holidays are full of fun, family and tradition, but for some caregivers and people living with dementia, they can be incredibly stressful.
With the holidays comes added obligations, an increased demand on finances, visits from extended family, and other added stressors which can make the holidays overwhelming for both the caregiver and those being cared for.
Tips for Dementia Caregiving During the Holidays
Here are 10 tips to help you not only survive, but thrive this holiday season.
1. Give Yourself Permission to Say “No”
You are not obligated to attend every social gathering of the season and you are not obligated to host parties in your home. Remember that each commitment you agree to means that you are also saying no to something else. For instance, time to relax, time to prepare and time to spend with loved ones.
2. Avoid Crowded and Noisy Places
Loud or startline noises can further confuse or frustrate someone living with dementia. Instead, prioritize smaller and more low-key events that won’t add to confusion or stress.
3. Manage Sugar Intake
Be cautious of over-indulgence in sugary foods which can lead to behavioral issues. Also, avoid alcohol which can lead to depression and increase the risk of falls.
4. Prepare Out of Town Guests
The holidays are a great time to get families together but can be challenging for caregivers and guests alike. Let visiting family and guests know that their loved one may not remember them and explain any known behavioral issues to make yourself and guests feel more comfortable should something arise.
5. Maintain Routines
This can be challenging during the holidays when parties go late, but try to keep your loved one on a similar routine so that holiday preparations do not become disruptive.
6. Involve Your Loved One in Holiday Preparations
The holidays are fun and having loved ones participate in the fun can create special memories for you. Decorating cookies, hanging decorations, setting the table, and even wrapping gifts are some examples of things people with dementia can do to help celebrate the holidays.
7. Join a Support Group
The holidays can be a tough time for caregivers and people who are in the early stages of dementia. The rate of depression increases during and after the holidays so if you or your loved ones experience any signs of depression, contact a health care professional.
8. Be Creative in Giving Gifts
Think through safe gifts that a loved one can use and ask people to purchase those gifts. Ideas include clothing, music, videos or photos, or identification bracelets. Also, be sure to put respite care on your own wish list to give yourself a bit of rest and relaxation during or after the holidays.
9. Keep Traditions Alive and Well
Just because a loved one may not remember past traditions does not mean that you can’t continue to honor them. Singing Christmas carols, lighting a menorah or eating holiday foods can help a loved one with dementia connect to holiday celebrations.
10. Trust Your Instincts
You know more than anyone else how much you as a caregiver and a loved one can handle without feeling overwhelmed. If an event or group of visitors feels like it may be stressful or troublesome give yourself permission to reschedule or decline.
What are some of your tried and true caregiver tips during the holidays? Share your suggestions with us in the comments below.
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