DURHAM – Holiday joy can be mixed with stress for those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, the number of calls to the Alzheimer’s Association national hotline about people with dementia who have wandered away from their homes traditionally increases 10-percent during the winter holidays.
However, with the right approaches the season can be successful for all concerned. To help families with this issue, Emeritus at Spruce wood has launched its “Memorable Moments” initiative.
As part of the program, Emeritus memory care professionals will visit seniors with dementia and their caregivers to provide insights into creating a smooth, joyful holiday experience.
Tips for caring for a loved one with dementia during the holidays:
The key to a successful holiday season is involving loved ones with memory loss into activities to the appropriate extent, so they feel involved and cared about, but not to the point that it becomes overwhelming.
• Involve them in the preparations: Ask your loved one to help you make ornaments, decorate the tree, polish the menorah, wrap presents, and stuff envelopes. This will help enables him or her to feel productive and useful.
• Bring the party home: If you choose to entertain, invite a few people to the home of your loved one. This will create a more comfortable environment and reduce the stress of having to travel. Showing your loved one pictures of the people coming and talk about how your loved one knows them.
• Prepare visitors: Talk to friends and family before they arrive so they know what circumstances to be prepared for when meeting with your loved one. As people with dementia may remember faces, but not names, have guests wear name tags.
• Make meals easier: Make it simpler for your loved one to eat by creating color contrast between the tablecloth, the plates, and the food being served, so each is easy to distinguish visually. Set the table with shallow bowls with wide brims rather than flat plates or deep bowls; they’re easy and neat to dine from, and can be used for all of the fare. Provide utensils with large, easy-to-grasp handles. Provide a straw for your loved one’s beverages to make drinks easier to sip.