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18 Dec 2018

Caring For Someone With Dementia During The Festive Season

Caring For Someone With Dementia During The Festive Season

For many people, the festive season is seen as being the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ - a magical time for spending time with friends and family. However, for a person living with dementia, any change in their regular routine or environment can be upsetting, which means that for carers of people with dementia this period of the year can be extremely stressful.

Whether you are a family carer or a professional carer, when it comes to the festive season and caring for someone with dementia, there is a lot that needs to be considered. You need to think about whether putting decorations up is a good idea or whether it will cause additional stress and aggitation. There’s also the consideration of the food and drink that you should serve them, and how the day should be spent. Are gifts and cards a good idea? There’s a lot that needs to be carefully considered.

What a lot of carers find is that discussing dementia with friends or family of the person with the condition can be complex as if someone hasn’t seen the impact of dementia, it can be really difficult for them to understand the concerns that this condition brings. However, that doesn’t mean that organising a dementia-friendly festive season isn’t possible - there’s plenty that you can do to ensure that the festive season you are planning is suitable for someone with dementia. Wondering how you can do that?

Below is a guide to some of the best ways that you can make the festive season more manageable when caring for someone with dementia.

1. Slowly put decorations

When it comes to putting up the Christmas decorations, it’s a good idea to introduce them slowly over a few days to help make the adjustment easier, instead of putting them up all at once.

By putting your decorations up all at once, you can cause anxiety and worry for people with dementia, so instead it’s better to stager the process and slowly put your decorations up, to give them time to adjust to changes to their environment.

2. Keep things simple and familiar

It’s easy for a person with dementia to feel overwhelmed over the festive period, so it’s important to keep things as simple, straightforward and familiar as possible. Don’t go mad with the decorations or plans - don’t overdo things, keep things low key and relaxed is best.

Wherever possible, aim to stick to a familiar routine, such as keeping meal times at regular times and eat in the usual place that you eat in. It’s little things like this that will help to limit confusion and the associated anxiety and stress that can be caused.

3. Get everyone involved

One of the best ways to make the festive season and its associated activities easier for someone with dementia to cope with is to get everyone involved in what’s going on. By getting everyone involved, you can make coping with the festive season easier and more enjoyable.

Wondering how to get someone with dementia involved in the festive activities going on? There are lots of simple steps that you can take to help make sure that everyone feels involved in the process of getting ready to celebrate the holidays and isn’t stressed or anxious.

Making Christmas cards is a good option as it can be a fun and festive activity that can help people with dementia to understand the change in season and the fact that the festive season is upon us. If you need ideas for creative Christmas card designs, there are plenty available on Pinterest to choose from.

As well as Christmas card making, there are also various other Christmas crafts that you could encourage a person with dementia to get involved in. Arts and crafts are actually an amazing form of therapy, and so using them to help make the adjustment to a new season easier can be highly effective.

4. Have a quiet area available

When there are a lot of people in one place, it can become overwhelming. Whether this is in a home environment or in a care environment, and so having a quiet area for anyone who feels anxious, agitated or stressed out is important.

It can be a good idea to designate one area of your care home or home as a quiet space where someone with dementia can use to get away from all of the business and relax. Adding a few key tools could also help to reduce any stress they’re feeling, such as a busy blanket, for instance.

5. Focus on old memories

If you know that there’s an old Christmas song, story or movie that the person used to love, bring it into your activities. It’s older things like this that can help a person with dementia cope better with all the festivities around Christmas, as they are better able to relate to them, rather than more modern songs, movies, and activities.

Another option is to build a memory book or box for them that’s packed full of important Christmas memorabilia. Whether it’s photos, old cards, or ornaments, these kinds of memory boxes can be extremely beneficial for people coping with dementia.

You could also opt to load memories onto an iPad so that the person can look through old photos, watch movies, and listen to songs as and when they feel like it.

6. Think carefully about food 

Christmas is often about the food, but for someone with dementia too much food can be daunting and can cause upset and concern. So it’s important not to overload their plate to ensure that they don’t feel overwhelmed with what they have to eat.

7. Be flexible

It’s far too easy to get all caught up in your Christmas traditions, and not think about how a resident or loved one with dementia will cope. However, it’s important that you are mindful of their needs and are willing to be flexible to ensure that you are able to make the festive period as enjoyable and stress-free as possible for them.

There you have it, everything that you need to know about caring for someone with dementia during the festive season.

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