Holidays are a time for families, friends, and loved ones to gather and enjoy each others company, however for someone living with dementia, this can be extremely stressful. For people in the earlier stages of the disease, holiday gatherings and being surrounded by conversation and activities may not be as big of a issue as it could be for someone in the middle to late stages of the disease. Make sure that the family or friends that you'll be celebrating with, are fully aware of the situation for the person living with dementia. Awareness goes a long way to bringing comfort to anyone joining a gathering with a dementia attendee and may be best communicated in a letter or email in advance. In your communication make sure to relay, helpful tips, expectations and any support you'll need at the event. Making it clear what you can and cannot handle as the caregiver will allow others to be able to clearly understand what they can do to help and will enable you to have the team support you need to enjoy the gathering. You may want to also set expectations with friends and family that you as a caregiver, may not be able to attend every single holiday tradition. Your good communication will help everyone manage expectations.
When planning family gatherings keep in mind to have something relatively small in size regarding attendees. A group of 20 people may become overwhelming for someone living with dementia as well as for the caregiver. Try to host the holiday event during the day as most triggers for a dementia patient may happen late afternoon and into the evening. A term that is called "sundowning". Have fun with the holidays and involve the person with dementia in the event planning as much as is possible. Have them help you wrap gifts or make desserts. It may feel comforting and familiar if you keep with long-standing traditions honoring past memories like old holiday activities, singing Christmas Carols, and watching old time Christmas Movies, etc..
Also when looking into gifts for someone living with dementia, make sure they are useful gifts. Some gift ideas may include:
Soft Fleece Blankets
CD's/Big Band Music/Classic Music
Robotic Cat or Dog
Family, friends, and loved ones are always more than welcome to join us at The Views Senior Living to celebrate the holidays. Call the nearest location to find out how you can reserve a room or space within the community to have a special gathering.
Happy Holidays from everyone at The Views Senior Living Communities of Cedar Rapids, Marion and Burlington