Demands increase during the holidays, while resources — personal and financial — may be in shorter supply. Here are the insiders’ tips to help you navigate the season, keep your balance, manage expectations-and really enjoy the celebrations, however modest, with your loved one.
1. Reduce expectations. Instead of trying to maintain all of the traditions your family usually observes, accept that the holidays will be different than in the past. Focus on creating a warm and supportive atmosphere for the person with dementia and look for ways to streamline your celebrations.
2. Limit holiday gatherings to smaller numbers. Large gatherings, with their hubbub and lack of predictability can be upsetting for the individual with dementia.
3. Reduce sensory stimulation. Blinking lights, loud music, a television in the background, several different conversations at once and other distractions may lead to frustration and distress for the AD person.
4. No one can do everything to prepare for a holiday gathering without getting testy. Call on friends, family and perhaps paid help to assist with preparing the home or making arrangements for activities. It may be worth what you save in frayed feelings.
5. Vow to make the best of the holidays, enjoying the good moments and rolling with the disappointments. Lost tempers can ruin what may be some of the person’s best, last memories.
6. Reduce the potential for conflict by preparing others for what to expect over the holidays. If there has been a significant decline in your loved one since their last contact, let them know.
7. Stay focused on the positive and connect with others; holiday gatherings are often great opportunities to deepen close relationships and express your gratitude. As well as providing a warm experience for the AD person, tap into the socializing and down time from work to recharge your own batteries.
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