We are now less than one week to Christmas! While some may be rejoicing in the festive mood, some of us may be wondering how to support a loved one with dementia. The festive season can be a particularly overwhelming period for both caregivers and people with dementia. Here are five things to take note when supporting a loved one with dementia this Christmas.
1. Include them
Christmas can be a busy period, but we should never neglect a loved one with dementia. There are many ways to include them this Christmas. For example, you may get them to help with simple Christmas decorations (e.g. decorating the Christmas tree) or assist in cooking a meal (e.g. washing the ingredients). You can also bring them out to shop for gifts and soak up the Christmas atmosphere. Remember, like every other person, a person with dementia wants to feel inclusive as well.
2. Slow and steady
Put up the Christmas decorations gradually over a few days so that it would not come as an abrupt change to the person with dementia. Sometimes even minor changes can appear to be significant to a person with dementia. If there is not enough time to decorate the place, you can always stick with a more homely and familiar environment — your loved one with dementia will appreciate it.
3. Reminisce the good old days
All of us love a good throwback, and Christmas is the perfect time to celebrate a nostalgic moment with your loved ones. Not sure how to start a conversation with a loved one with dementia? Use a digital memory box to get inspiration on famous events, popular topics and classic songs from the 20th century, or look through a family photo album and bring back the good times.
4. Don’t go overboard
While it may be tempting to turn up the Christmas music and celebrate the festive season in style, it is important to be mindful of the person with dementia too. People with dementia are very sensitive to sound, and the noise surrounding them may provide extreme discomfort. If you are expecting guests at your home, try to limit them to a few at any one time. The unfamiliarity may also be overwhelming to people with dementia. Ideally, there should be a quiet and unoccupied room where they can retreat to and relax, in case things get out of hand.
5. Take care of yourself
You can’t support a loved one if you can’t support yourself. So, take this opportunity to rest and recharge this Christmas. If you wish to speak with fellow caregivers and share your personal experiences in caregiving, you can participate in our discussion forum. You can also find practical advice on self-care on our Dementia Forum website. As a caregiver, it is important not to feel guilty for resting. To rest is to prepare for a longer journey ahead.
And, there you go! We understand that caregiving can be really difficult, and we hope these five things will help you in supporting a loved one with dementia. We want to say a big thank you to all caregivers for the hard work this 2017!
Lastly, Merry Christmas! 🙂
This post was originally published on Swedish Care International.