Christmas with those who have dementia is much different than Christmas in the past; but we can help.
How to Prepare for Christmas with Dementia
- Limit Change – Many people with dementia don’t accept or understand change and this includes decorating or moving regular items to replace them with holiday decorations. Downsizing your decorating is best.
- Reinvent Traditions – As long as your loved one accepts and wants to be a part of the Christmas changes you make at home, allow them to be an active part of the change while perhaps adjusting the changes to keep it safe for them.
- Go Slowly – Don’t plan on changing everything all in one day; including decorating and/or baking, etc. Change is better accepted by those with dementia if done slowly and often your in-home caregiver can help those with dementia make small changes daily with adding a few ornaments here and there or having them cut some of the Christmas cookies off the refrigerator roll with a plastic knife, setting them on the counter to be baked later without the fear of them being burned (perhaps when napping, etc.).
- Limit Visitors During the Christmas Season – Explain to friends and family that while Christmas may typically be a season of gathering; however, those who have dementia generally don’t understand that Christmas is different than any other day.
- Limit Your Stress – When you are upset and tense you tend to create something referred to as transferal of emotional contagion; meaning that your loved one becomes stressed from your stress and affects the overall reactions of the dementia.
- Utilize the Help of Professional Caregiving – Because professional in-home caregivers have experience working with those who have dementia they can often head off problems before they occur. A professional caregiver will be able to focus all of their intentions on the dementia patient while you take some time to enjoy the holidays yourself; perhaps visiting with friends outside of your home and even doing a little shopping for Christmas.
- Be Open to New Christmas Traditions – Accept new traditions instead of focusing on what used to be:
- String festive fabric around a small pre-lit tree to decorate it.
- Shop for cookies at a local bakery – discussing what looks good to them, buying small amounts to place in a container at home.
- Create a Christmas album of pictures from the past and talk about them as you put the album together.
- Purchase a large piece puzzle with a winter scene or Christmas picture on it and work on the puzzle together to stimulate brain activity
Remember that those with dementia have a much harder time dealing with change and understanding the activities of Christmas. Let us help make your Christmas less stressful with in-home caregiving that creates a Christmas to enjoy for both you and your loved one.
Photo by Our City Forest