As Christmas fast approaches we wanted to share some thoughts on how to make this time of year an enjoyable one for people who are living with dementia and their loved ones. It is a time that brings joy and happiness into many people’s lives, but the hustle and bustle of the season can often cause it to be a stressful and overwhelming time of year for some. We want to help change that with six simple tips to help you not only survive the holiday season, but also find a way to thrive in it!
Keep it simple
This can be a very overwhelming time of year, from the gifts, to outings, to the countless social gatherings. Try to be mindful of keeping this busy schedule as relaxed as possible and pay attention to not only your loved one’s limits, but also yours as a caregiver. Remember that there is no need to ‘overdo it’.
Don’t be afraid to make traditions work for you
The most beautiful part about traditions is that there’s always room for new ones, or to improve the old to make it work for you. Try not to feel pressured to ‘nail every tradition on the head’, make adjustments to fit your needs. If your loved one is living in long term care for example, you may want to make adjustments to allow them to enjoy and participate in their new home; staff can be a really great resource to help you accomplish this!
If there is one thing Chevy Chase has taught us, it’s that Christmas celebrations don’t always go as planned, and that’s ok! Be flexible in your expectations be prepared with a plan B or to make changes on the fly to help meet the needs of your loved one.
Think about the needs of your loved ones
This busy time of year can often cause confusion but there are many ways to help minimize this. Remember to stick to certain routines as best as possible, for example, if your loved one is used to eating at certain times of day, it is important to keep up with this. As family and friends gatherings can be loud and confusing, try to minimize noise to make this a more comfortable experience. For example, background noise such as music or the television can be quite distracting and often causes people to try and speak over it. Also be mindful of the time of day your gatherings will take place as late in the day can be difficult for some people.
Communication is key
Try to have an open line of communication between care partners, discuss expectations, limitations and the needs and wants of each other. Consider discussing ways to help make the holidays a better experience for your loved one with guests prior to social gatherings.
Remember that your time is the best gift that you can give
When you reflect on Christmas in the past, one thing you will recall is that the time spent with family and friends stands out more than any particular gift you may have received. Time is a gift, one we can’t take back, or trade, or beg for more of. How we spend our time is important. Spending time with your loved one is a great way to show you care, and truly a great way to embrace this time of year. Call your parents or grandparents that you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Visit your loved one in long term care. Take the time to show your love by simply just showing up and being present.
From our Person Centred Universe family to yours, we sincerely hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!