Dementia & Christmas
As we all know, many families across Ireland are caring for someone who is suffering with dementia which means that as the holiday seasons brings cheer and happiness to most, it may not be the same for all. Christmas is a time for reminiscence, and this can become a very hard part of Christmas for those caring for a loved one with dementia as it will bring back memories of how things used to be before the dementia gripped the family, and show how much it has affected not only the sufferer but the rest of the family also. Alzheimer’s is one of the main diseases that cause dementia, and according to The Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland at the moment there are approximately 50,000 families caring for someone with dementia and that for each person who is diagnosed with dementia there are at least three family members directly affected. For these families at a time when you should be filed with joy and happiness often stress sadness and disappointment unfortunately take to the forefront. Along with these emotions, at the Christmas period often many families may want to live up to some traditions a somewhat ode to “how things should be” however this is very taxing when looking after a loved one with dementia and it is just not practical for everything to be exactly how they used to be. Below are our three top tips particularly for those who are celebrating Christmas for the first time when a loved one has dementia. Changing your Christmas routine just slightly can help the whole family enjoy Christmas a lot more and bring more joy and happiness to your holidays.
Do Not Tax Yourself
Our first tip would be to not try too hard in light of the dementia and keep things as usual and simple as you can.
Prep Together – For many, Christmas time is family time and this usually is never more evident than when it comes to the traditional Christmas dinner. Did your loved one usually cook it before but can’t any more due to the illness? Make sure to involve them, accept their helping hand when doing simple things like baking the Christmas pudding or setting the table this can be a very nice and “normal” routine for a dementia sufferer. This can also be evident in the other tasks at Christmas like decorating the tree or wrapping gifts.
Small, few and far between Gatherings – For a person suffering from dementia, research shows that a quiet, calm environment is best. As you know a lot of family and friends come back home at Christmas which evidently leads to family parties/gatherings and this is completely fine! However we would recommend having them in small spaced out sessions if you like! This will not only allow for a better environment for the loved one with dementia but it will also increase involvement for them and more one to one conversations which can be enjoyable. That being said, it is possible that others may arrive unexpectedly and it may well spill over to a bigger gathering, in that case plan ahead to have a separate room for the ill member of the family to go have a rest and take a time out.
Go Easy on the Decorations – Although this seems like a nit picking tip, this is actually very important for those who are celebrating Christmas with a loved one who has dementia. In dementia sufferers blinking lights and large displays usually in full flow around the Christmas period can cause disorientation, also we would avoid any decorations that may cause confusion like fake fruit and veg or potentially harmful decorations like sharp objects, dodgy plugs and sockets and lit candles.
To find out more about dementia in preparation for the Christmas period can you please visit our blog on dementia awareness at the following link: https://carepoint.co.uk/blog/dementia-awareness-northern-ireland/