[Sponsored] A Holiday to Remember: 5 Tips to help memory impaired loved ones enjoy the season
Planning the holidays with your aging loved one can be a wonderful way to sharpen their memory, support their mental health, and make memories with them that all of you can treasure well into the future. Caring for an adult living with memory impairment can be very challenging. Routine and predictability are very important for these seniors, but that does not mean you have to forego special events or activities.
As with anything in caring for a senior living with memory impairments, it is important to take the time to carefully plan your gatherings to be safe, enjoyable, and meaningful for your loved one and the rest of the family. Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area shares some helpful tips to making holiday magic a little easier.
1. First, check with your loved one’s physician to make sure he or she is healthy enough to travel and can handle the stimulation of the holidays.
As the primary caregiver, you likely know better than anyone else what is best. If your loved one cannot travel, rest assured: Making the decision to guarantee the health and safety of your loved one is most important. There are other ways to share the holidays—video chats are fun and easy too—with very little pre-planning.
2. If cleared to travel, give everyone else a heads up.
A simple email with information on what dementia is and how to interact with your loved one will be a huge help for everyone. Include simple tips like these in your email:
—Approach from the front so they aren’t startled.
—Try to hold conversations at eye level.
—Never argue or disagree—instead, join their reality.
—Keep it simple—stick to short specific statements.
—Reminisce—in general, older memories are easier for them to recall than recent ones.
—If something happens and they get upset, acknowledge their feelings and redirect them with a change of scenery or fresh topic.
—Don’t be offended if they can’t remember you in the moment—it’s not you, it’s their memory impairment.
3. Talk about your holiday plans as far in advance as possible and bring it up regularly as the event approaches.
This helps reinforce the idea, so they aren’t nervous or surprised when the time comes. This also gives them an opportunity to help with planning and add their own touches to make it special.
4. Remind them of their family members.
Your loved one might struggle to recognize family members new spouses, or new children. Take some time with them to review family members with photos of these relatives and remind them of the names and their relationship. Name tags can be helpful too, especially in large families.
5. Set aside a quiet room where you can limit visitors.
A change in routine can be overwhelming and even upsetting for a senior with dementia. Set aside a room that is off-limits to other guests. This room allows your parent to take a break from the stimulation of people and activities to rest or receive care from you or a home health care provider. This can also help prevent negative behaviors and allow everyone to enjoy the event to its fullest.
Above all, be patient with them and kind to yourself. Caring for a loved one requires support for their caregiver. Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area offers an array programs and support to families affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Alzheimer’s Services serves the 10-parish area—East and West Baton Rouge, Ascension, Assumption, East and West Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee and St. Helena. Click here for more information or call 225.334.7494.