Large events can be a stressful time for the elderly and their caregivers. For someone living with dementia, this time can be extra stressful and overwhelming. If caregivers, families, and friends know what to do when celebrating special events with someone that has dementia, things may go a lot smoother.
Informing families, friends, visitors of the progression of the person's disease before the event is always essential. You can do this by e-mail, letter, in person, or by phone. It's helpful for families, friends, visitors to understand that they may not be the same person they were a year ago. The disease may cause some changes in behavior and personality. It's always key to remember, it's not the person, it's the disease.
Consider inviting a smaller amount of people to a special event, especially if you are hosting it at your house. Too many people at once may cause a person living with dementia to be overstimulated and overtired.
If your loved one already lives in a community, take advantage of the many special events they hold. Birthday parties, seasonal celebrations, gatherings. It is important to maintain a normal routine and consistency as much as possible.
Decorations are absolutely beautiful during special events, like birthday parties. You may want to rethink what decorations to put out. Some look very edible and a person that has dementia may not recognize that. For example, red holly's on wreaths can look very real. Someone with dementia may try and pick them off to eat them.
A gift that once may have been useful or beneficial for someone living with dementia may not be safe or beneficial for them now. Here are some good gifts to consider:
Weighted blankets- these blankets help reduce anxiety and insomnia. With the dementia disease, someone may become restless at night and be up multiple times at night. Weighted blankets help reduce restlessness.
Photo Albums- Put pictures together of family, friends, or old photos of the person living with dementia when they were younger. In the disease progression, people often refer back to when they were younger. Some people living with the disease see themselves as a 7 year old and some as a 20 year old serving in the war.
Pop up books- Someone could be engaged in a pop up book for hours! Especially if it includes sound.
Large piece puzzles
A CD or IPOD loaded with favorite songs or artists
Diffusers- Aromatherapy has proven to be very beneficial for this population! Aromatherapy can help decrease anxiety and depression.
Baby dolls or stuffed animals (puppies or cats).
Large Coloring books
Latch & Lock board- You can make one of these yourself!
Most importantly enjoy special events with your loved ones. Stop, take a deep breath, and take in the happy memories created with families and friends.