Family get-togethers, fireworks and great food make the Fourth of July a fun holiday for us, but that is not always the case for our parents and senior loved ones with dementia. So, what can you do to have an enjoyable and safe holiday with your loved one this year?
Read these 10 tips for celebrating Independence Day with a senior loved one with dementia.
Celebrating the Fourth of July With a Loved One With Dementia
You can help parents and senior loved ones with dementia feel included and safe by modifying your Independence Day celebration this year.
Here are 10 ways that you can have an enjoyable day with your family:
- Avoid places that have large crowds or are setting off loud fireworks (which may be quite a challenge on the Fourth of July). Consider celebrating indoors or spending only a portion of the day outside.
- Bring along a comfortable lawn chair and avoid letting your loved one stand for long periods of time if you are headed outdoors.
- Don’t forget to bring along plenty of cold water (seniors can become dehydrated or suffer from heat stroke very easily).
- Don’t forget the sunscreen. While you are planning for a quiet walk or a day at the beach, make sure you bring along a straw hat and limit the time in the sun. Optimally, bring along a shade umbrella, or try to find a nice shade tree.
- Maintain as much of the normal daily routine as possible, for example, if your loved one always takes a nap at noon, plan the holiday activity around nap time.
- Make a traditional meal with foods like burgers, hot dogs, salads and more (have your loved one help as much as possible with the meal prep).
- Plan activities around the time of day your loved one is the most alert, particularly for those who have trouble “sundowning.”
- Refrain from asking your loved one if he/she remembers specific events or past holidays, but rather, say the name, describe the event and observe to see if he/she remembers. For example, say, “Your neighbor wants to talk to you about the time we had the neighborhood barbeque in the backyard.”
- When spending time away from home, select an outdoor spot near a restroom and offer frequent bathroom breaks.
- When your loved one gets dressed in the morning, ensure that he/she wears lightweight (cotton) light-colored clothing that is loose fitting if you plan to spend some time outdoors.
There are many ways to adapt your Independence Day plans and traditions so you and your senior loved ones can have an enjoyable and safe holiday, but it’s most important to stay in the present and try to find ways to enjoy the simple moments with them — no matter what is around the next bend.
What other suggestions for celebrating the Fourth of July with a loved one with dementia would you add to this list? We’d like to hear your stories and tips in the comments below.