Holidays can be a wonderful time of year filled with family, food and laughter. However, it can also bring on stressful times and hurried schedules for everyone. This is why the holidays can be especially hard for those with memory loss.
People living with memory loss do best when things are kept to an even keel. They tend to feel most comfortable in surroundings and with people they are most familiar. As a result, caregivers find that some people with memory loss become more agitated or forgetful during this time of revelry. However, celebrating the holidays with your loved one with memory loss is extremely important. You may just need to adapt your expectations and current ways of celebrating to incorporate their needs into the mix. Here are some tips that will hopefully help you have the merriest of holidays:
Follow Past Traditions – What was one way that your family always celebrated Christmas? Perhaps there is a dish that Grandma always made, it might not be the most sought after dish, but if it helps my loved one with memory loss bring back a memory or even a smile, I’d say “pass the butter please!” However, it doesn’t have to be food. Perhaps it’s singing Christmas carols before opening presents. Music is one memory that is typically held for a long period of time, even in those with severe memory loss or who can no longer speak. Try breaking into Silent Night with your loved one and see what happens!!!
Simplify – We all want a seven course meal at Christmas with eggnog and eighty dozen kinds of cookies to munch on. However, for our loved one with memory loss, those extra special touches aren’t important and can be intimidating. They just want to be safe, happy and healthy. It’s important to keep in mind what really needs to be done to make this time special for everyone. Maybe it’s ordering pizza so that the family can sit and reminisce with Grandma or fixing one course of Dad’s favorite food.
Family and Friends – It is important to bring family and friends to see your loved one. However, realize that a big crowd of people, especially small children, can be overwhelming. It may be best to set up specific times for different groups to visit. By doing this, you also ensure that your loved gets to spend quality time with each one of their visitors and this individualized time will be most meaningful to both. By taking these simple steps you can ensure that the holidays are truly merry for everyone.