The holiday season can be merry and bright for people living with Alzheimer's disease or related dementias, as well as their caregivers and family members. Planning and finding the right balance for everyone helps ensure the holidays remain joyous!
Brightview's Director of Dementia Services, Cole Smith, shares his practical suggestions for creating the best holiday experiences with your loved one:
- It is important to build on traditions and focus on meaningful activities for the person living with dementia: singing old holiday songs, watching favorite holiday movies, looking through old photo albums, taking drives to look at Christmas lights, making crafts, or baking traditional foods together. However, be creative and don't be afraid to start a new tradition if necessary to make sure your loved one living with dementia is included.
- Maintaining a routine helps minimize disruptions and reduce confusion. Time and space for breaks and rest are critical for the person living with dementia. Try to plan activities and gatherings when the person living with dementia is at their best. This may mean trading the traditional holiday dinner for a lovely holiday breakfast or brunch. You know your loved one and the time of day they are most engaging with others
- Help prepare family members who don't often visit on what to expect. I recommend sending a current photo of your loved one living with dementia, expressing how excited they are to see everyone. Physical appearances change throughout the course of dementia, and the image would help others see those changes.
- And finally, be sensitive that the person may feel overwhelmed. They may also be fearful as they don't know where they are or who is around them. Avoid correcting errors that a person with dementia makes or asking specific questions.
Below are two other helpful resources to read and share with your family and friends:
Brightview Senior Living builds, owns, and operates award-winning vibrant senior living communities in eight states along the East Coast: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. We offer senior Independent Living, Assisted Living, Enhanced Care, and Wellspring Village®, a specialized neighborhood for people living with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Schedule a personal visit to experience our communities firsthand.