While the festive season can be full of joy and togetherness, for someone coping with dementia it can also be very stressful. If you are looking after someone with dementia this Christmas, follow these tips to make sure they enjoy the festivities, too.
10 tips for coping with dementia over Christmas
1. Keeping to your loved one’s usual routines
At Christmas, our usual routines often go out of the window. While many of us enjoy this break from routine, for someone coping with dementia this can be very stressful. So, wherever possible, stick to regular routines, especially around mealtimes and bedtimes. This will be reassuring for your loved one and help to reduce stress.
2. Reduce noise, fuss and disturbances
Christmas can be a very busy and noisy time of the year. This can be hugely overwhelming for people coping with dementia. If you can, try to limit the noise and bustle and keep the atmosphere calm. This can be difficult, especially if you have children. However simple things can help. For example, turn off the music or the TV when you are eating, opening presents or just having a chat.
3. Make sure your loved one can rest and relax
Many people living with dementia will need extra sleep. Try to stick to normal bedtime routines as much as possible. It is also important to ensure your loved one can rest during the day if they need to. Prepare a quiet room where your loved one can go if they need a break. If you will be busy hosting and cooking, it’s a good idea to designate someone else to keep an eye on your loved one to make sure they are relaxed and happy.
4. Involve your loved one in festive activities
Of course, you want your loved one to be part of your Christmas and to enjoy the festivities. You can get them involved in familiar tasks such as making cakes or mince pies or helping decorate the Christmas tree, arrange flowers or set the table.
5. Pick some activities that everyone can enjoy
Plan some activities that everyone in your party can enjoy. You might like to sing Christmas carols together or play simple games such as snap or bingo. Older and younger members of the family might also enjoy quiet activities such as a jigsaw puzzle or some colouring. Getting outside for a short walk can be good for all family members, too, helping to calm down old and young alike.
6. Spread out visitors to help those coping with dementia
Although this shouldn’t be an issue this year, with Covid 19 restrictions, we felt we should include it for future reference. If possible, try to spread out visits and keep to just a few guests at a time. Large parties of unfamiliar people can cause those coping with dementia a lot of stress. If necessary, ensure that visitors are aware of your loved one’s condition so that they know what to expect.
If you do have lots of visitors, ask friends and family to spend some time individually with your loved one, as they may feel lost and overwhelmed when everyone is talking at once.
7. Do Christmas whatever way works for you
At Christmas, it can be easy to get caught up in how things ‘should’ be or how you have always done things. Take the opportunity this year to rethink traditions and find a way to do Christmas that works for you and your family.
8. Festive food for those coping with dementia
While the festive feast is wonderful it can be a little too much at times. Don’t overload your loved one’s plate and stick with foods you know they like. Again, ask someone to keep an eye on your loved one when they are eating.
9. Look after yourself
Often at Christmas, the hosts can be so busy taking care of everything they don’t get to enjoy the festivities themselves. Make sure you plan some time for you. You might like to enjoy a relaxing bath at the end of the day or take your morning coffee outside in the garden to have a moment’s peace before the day begins.
10. Take advice from your carer
If your loved one is looked after by a carer, ask for their advice on what techniques work when your loved one is stressed or overwhelmed. Your carer is an expert in dementia as well as being familiar with your loves one’s needs.
How Mumby’s can help those coping with dementia
If you need extra help or support over the Christmas period, then give us a call. We can arrange live-in home care, or respite care, in your loved one’s home to ease the pressure at Christmas or any time of the year.