The holiday hustle and bustle is here, and it’s filled to bursting with end-of-year deadlines, gift-buying, decorating and celebration planning. While often joyous, this time of year can be stressful, however, particularly for those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia and their caregivers.
The good news is that by managing your family’s expectations (and your own!) and making a few modifications to your traditions, the holidays truly can be bright and merry.
Adapt Holiday Activities and Traditions
While it may no longer be practical to plan large destination holiday gatherings or activities, there are plenty of new traditions you can start. Easy and repetitive tasks such as making wreaths, decorating cookies or arts and crafts projects can keep your loved one engaged with other members of the family. The key is to create new traditions that allow your loved one to feel included. As your loved one’s condition changes, these activities will need to evolve as well. Sometimes it will be enough to simply sit and watch a treasured holiday movie together.
Plan Smaller Celebrations
For many of us, large gatherings are a hallmark of the season, and while fun, can also be overwhelming. This is especially true for those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. If you are hosting, plan for smaller dinners and promote a quieter atmosphere. If you are taking your loved one to another family member’s home, ensure ahead of time that there is a quiet spot available for your loved one to have some time alone if they become agitated.
Ask for Help
It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday planning and daily caregiving and forget to reach out for help. During this time of year especially, reach out to friends and family members for a helping hand. Ask another family member to host the party this year, or get your partner to select or wrap the gifts this year.
Create a Soothing Atmosphere
This season can be hectic, which is why it’s so important to create a soothing atmosphere for your loved one. This means keeping noise at a minimum and avoiding decorations that incorporate blinking lights or that overwhelm with sheer size. Also look out for safety hazards like candles or lamps with open flames and replace them with lights. If you’re putting up a tree or other tall decoration such as a blow-up figure, ensure that it is secured appropriately.
Be sure that you take a few minutes each day to make time for yourself this season to be more mindful. Caregiving can be challenging, and may lead to burnout, social isolation and a decrease in relationship quality between you and your loved one. Practicing mindfulness has been shown to help Alzhiemer’s caregivers reduce stress by becoming more aware of their emotional states. This can help you better acknowledge and accept the complexity of your feelings and foster a greater sense of self-compassion.
Explore Memory Care Options at Village on the Green
At Village on the Green, our team members plan special events and activities all year round, including the holidays. In fact, a senior living community can be the perfect place for an older adult to make new connections and meet people with similar interests. We are dedicated to providing quality, compassionate care for your family’s needs. Our state-of-the-art community offers specialized programming and customized individual care plans to help your loved one find meaning and joy in each day.
To discover more about Village on the Green, or to schedule a tour, contact us.