Celebrating Christmas with family and friends can be one of life’s greatest joys. For a person living with dementia, though, it can be an overwhelming or confusing experience. To help you make the day special for your loved one our Dementia Services team have compiled some top tips for carers and family members for over the festive season.
Keep it simple
People with dementia can become unsettled in unfamiliar environments so keep it simple. Plan the day ahead, stick to routines as much as possible. Having lots of people in your home can become overwhelming, for anyone especially for someone living with dementia…
“Create a quiet room or a space where someone can retreat to if the music gets too loud or family get too competitive playing games! If you usually eat at a certain time try keep to this.” – Alison Turner, Head of Dementia Services.
Review the Menu
Although many people eat a lot at Christmas, a full plate can be daunting for someone who has difficulties eating. If you’re doing the serving, try not to overload your loved one’s plate… think about including snacks and finger food.
“If you can, also try to serve smaller portion sizes of soft food to help those who have difficulty swallowing or chewing. Put food on plates with contrasting colours so the meal is easy to see and eat. ” – Sophie O’Connor, Officer in Charge at Withy Trees Dementia Day Centre.
Reminisce with the Family
Whether it’s singing a Christmas carole or watching a classic Christmas film, find something fun you can all take part in. Opening a family photo album or making memory box could be a nice way to spend time together.
“For people living with dementia, singing can trigger some wonderful memories, help them communicate, improve their mood and leave them feeling good. Music can reach parts of the brain in ways other forms of communication cannot and it’s a great way for people with dementia to share their emotions.” – Kath Bradshawannand, Dementia Community Links Team Leader.
Don’t forget you !!
It can be difficult
There is no shame in finding this difficult and it can be a relief to say so. Ask for help when you need it, and be explicit about how people can help you. Carers deserve a chance to put their feet up at Christmas!
Something will go wrong, it’s inevitable. Don’t panic, and don’t berate yourself. Instead, keep it in perspective, check everything is ok now, and keep moving forwards. Make a list of the phone numbers you need (GP, out-of-hours clinic, helplines) and make sure repeat prescriptions are up to date well before the festivities start.
Connect with others
Christmas can be a difficult and even lonely time for carers, ask a family member or friend while they are visiting at Christmas to sit with your loved one so you can have some time to enjoy some much needed respite or trip to the boxing day sales.This year maybe more isolating than others so use technology if you can to call or video call family and friends.