Making the holidays special for you and your loved one with dementia
The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration, but when you care for a loved one living with dementia, it seems like the holidays add more stress – with or without a pandemic!
While this year’s celebration will be different, making memorable moments is still possible. To help ease your anxieties and create a safe experience, consider these tips.
*Get the word out.
Be honest about Mom’s dementia diagnosis and if her abilities have changed or symptoms progressed, and explain your caregiving responsibilities. Set realistic expectations for yourself and what you can contribute to the holiday celebrations.
*Reconsider in-person celebrations.
Older adults are at an increased risk for severe complications from COVID-19. Hosting or attending in-person gatherings should be avoided, so instead, connect through technology. There are several (free) video-calling apps to choose from, like Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime.
A virtual party can be just as fun as an in-person gathering with less hassle. Plan a special activity like an arts and crafts project or cooking demonstration that recreates Mom’s must-have stuffing.
However, if you are still thinking about an in-person get-together, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines holiday celebrations and small gatherings on its website.
*Include your loved one.
“Dignity, empathy, and acknowledgment are the foundation for creating happy, purposeful moments,” explained Memory Care Coordinator Armgard Kucas. “It’s important to recognize your loved one’s unique needs and to highlight his or her skillsets.”
Although Mom cannot create a grand feast like years past, you can make her feel valued and purposeful by offering simple tasks like helping to mix ingredients, setting the table, or wrapping gifts.
Other enriching activity ideas that can help you make a meaningful connection with Mom include reminiscing, looking through old photographs, playing music, watching a classic holiday movie, or taking a drive around the neighborhood to admire the different decorations.
Have patience with yourself. Caregiving is hard work.
Sometimes you cannot do it all; it’s OK to ask for help. Senior living communities that provide memory care services can be a great source of comfort to family caregivers.
At The Birches at Newtown, our senior care experts in memory care provide a safe and nurturing environment with person-centered programming designed to promote independence, socialization, and quality of life. To schedule a virtual tour or learn more about Daybreak at The Birches, call 215-240-4829 or visit www.thebirchesatnewtown.com.