Stress has been a companion of holiday planning for most of us. When dementia and memory changes are part of the journey, it is helpful to consider the following suggestions:
Consider what areas they can be involved in safely. Give them purpose- open cards together, discuss gift selections, give simple baking roles, read cards, sing songs and share holiday stories. Try to focus in the moment about the memories you are making rather than the outcome or perfect results.
Even though you are busy, you will find that keeping with structure of medications, treatment, and day programs will be better for your loved one and ultimately for you.
Look at areas of safety – lighted candles may not be a good idea and large blinking lights can cause disorientation. Create a beautiful home, accepting that it may be very different than years before.
Minimize overstimulation and your anxiety level as this can transfer to your loved one. Keep things simple and alert your guests ahead of time about your own needs and wishes. Lessen the number of visitors, simplify the plan and allow a few days on either side of an event to be quiet and relaxing.
Make a list of the usual things you do during the holidays. Decide which you really want to keep in your plan and what you can “let go of.” Allow others to help you and be clear in what your need for them to do. Include time away for yourself and ways that help you regain your energy.
Rebecca Axline, LCSW
Clinical Social Work Services