4 WAYS TO HELP SENIORS WITH ALZHEIMER’S ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS
Holidays are often stressful for seniors with Alzheimer’s. Holidays bring a flurry of activity, changes in daily routine, conversations with extended family, and participation in annual traditions. For seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, this can be stressful.
To help your older adult have a happy holiday season and to reduce your own stress, scale things back and modify traditional activities so they’ll feel calm, safe, and included.
Even if your older adult might not remember these holiday activities later, the warm feelings they’ll have is a different kind of memory their body will carry for a while.
Here are 4 tips to help your older adult (and you) feel more relaxed and able to enjoy the fun of the holiday season.
4 tips to help seniors with Alzheimer’s enjoy the holidays
1. Minimize your own stress
People with Alzheimer’s or dementia are usually quite sensitive to other people’s moods and feelings. If you’re stressed and anxious, they’re likely to get stressed and agitated too. That can lead to challenging behaviors, which will then make you even more stressed. It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s not possible to completely eliminate stress, so just do your best to keep extra commitments to a minimum. That way, you won’t be overwhelmed by time-consuming holiday tasks. If stress starts getting the better of you, take a brief time out away from your older adult so it won’t affect them.
2. Plan ahead to modify family traditions
With so many caregiving responsibilities, it will likely be overwhelming and stressful to do everything “like we used to” and be able to find ways to make them work for your older adult.
Minimize everyone’s stress by paring down and focusing on a few of the most meaningful traditions. Choose a meaningful tradition to them like trimming the Christmas tree, lighting the menorah, singing traditional songs, or baking special holiday treats.
3. Let seniors get involved in preparations
Letting your older adult participate in the holiday preparations helps them feel included and get familiar with the upcoming festivities. Focus on their current abilities and have them help with small tasks they can successfully accomplish. They’ll feel useful and be happily occupied while you work on other things.
Peeling potatoes or carrots
Rolling cookie dough
Wiping the table
Even if they don’t do a great job, let them continue if they’re enjoying themselves. You can re-do any essential tasks later.
4. Limit holiday decorations
Use moderation when decorating. Too much clutter, decor, or twinkling lights could cause overstimulation and disorientation. Focus on cheerful items that bring back happy memories and are important to family traditions.