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While many families are excited about family gatherings and holiday events, for those who are undergoing memory care, as well as for their families and friends, the experience of the holiday can be far from exciting. On the contrary, it can be very overwhelming. Thankfully, those who experience memory loss can still enjoy the love and beauty of the season, as long as they are treated with patience, compassion, and respect.
Preparing for the season is already stressful; adding in the strain of making sure that your senior relative feels comfortable can make things difficult. By using these tips, your holidays can still be festive and fun, helping to avoid any discomfort or stress.
Communicate with your guests before the event. Although memory loss is something that touches many families, not everyone is familiar with the different behaviors and communications that can be inspired by someone whose memory fades in and out. Talking to friends and family before the event can help reduce stress by making sure everyone knows the most effective ways to communicate with their loved one. You can also offer gift ideas for patients with dementia so that this holiday tradition can be maintained appropriately.
Plan your celebration early. For many Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, symptoms tend to worsen in the evening hours. By planning your celebration earlier in the day you can help your loved one feel more comfortable.
Choose a familiar environment for your gathering. If you choose to have your family gathering in an unfamiliar restaurant or new home, you are adding stress instead of reducing it for those who are experiencing memory loss. By choosing a familiar home or bringing the festivities to the assisted living facility where they reside, you may be able to ease their stress and help them to feel more relaxed.
Opt for familiar and favorite foods. Just as you can make your loved one feel more welcome by celebrating in a familiar environment, you will help them feel more comfortable by offering food that they recognize. Familiar flavors and smells can also serve as memory aids and help them enjoy the gathering.
Keep the gathering modest. It can feel like you should invite everyone, especially if your loved one’s health is declining, but many dementia sufferers find large groups of people overwhelming. It may be better to keep your celebration to a small group of immediate family.
Making the Season Stress-Free for Everyone
At Spring Hills, our experience with memory care and senior living, as well as our understanding of Alzheimer’s patients’ unique needs, helps our residents and their families enjoy the holiday season with grace and thankfulness.
We wish you and your family the best over the holidays. If we can help you plan for the season in any way, please contact us.