Holidays and festive occasions can be stressful at the best of times. For people with dementia, the changes in routine, extra sensory and communicative demands of the season can be overwhelming and result in a distressing and tense time for all. It is not all doom and gloom, however. Finding time before the occasion to think through how to create a dementia-friendly environment and how family traditions can be adjusted to accommodate a person with dementia mean that the entire family can share an enjoyable festive season.
Think about what the person with dementia is capable of: can they fold the napkins for the table, arrange the flowers, or make some festive decorations with the kids? In finding ways for a person with dementia to contribute to the day you not only lighten your own load, you provide them with an important sense of having contributed to the family and the occasion.
This blog is focused on resources that carers can use or provide to others about celebrating with people with dementia. It also includes tips for communicating and successfully interacting with loved ones with dementia.
All resources are freely available online.
Website: Supporting a person with dementia during visits, holidays, and celebrations, Alzheimer’s Society UK
This factsheet provides tips for people who are hosting or visiting people with dementia with the intention of ensuring that everyone can have a relaxing and enjoyable time. It is also downloadable, so if you particularly like it you can print it or save for future reference.
For families living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the holidays can be a challenging time. However, by planning ahead and adjusting some expectations, your celebrations can still be happy and memorable occasions. This webpage has a number of suggestions for establishing a dementia-friendly environment and (politely) educating family and friends on how to increase the likelihood of having successful interactions with people with dementia.
Communicating and interacting
Communicating with a person with dementia can be more challenging, but there are different strategies you can use to increase the likelihood of good communications and interactions. The resources below are all focused on how to communicate with a person with dementia, what to expect and how to make the most of what a person can still do as a basis for sharing activities and pleasant time together.
Find out about some of the changes in communication that occur as a result of dementia and how families and carers can manage these changes. Also provided are some personal tips on communication written by a person with dementia.
You can also download, save and/or print this as a tipsheet.
I think the introduction best sums up the essence of this article:
“We tend to think of communication as talking, but in fact it consists of much more than that. A large proportion of our communication is non-verbal, which takes place through gestures, facial expressions and touch. Non-verbal communication is particularly important when a person with dementia is losing their language skills. This may also mean that a person with dementia behaves in ways that those caring for them find difficult and this may be because they are trying to communicate something.”
There is also a version of this article available in a downloadable format.
One of the very intimidating aspects of dementia both for the person with dementia and family and friends is finding ways to connect with the person they know and remember. These guides provide fantastic advice, suggestions and personal stories of how family members have ‘found’ each other again and established meaningful communications and interactions through shared activities. These easy-to-read, very informative publications are available in their entirety online for free. Explore them, for we hope that they provide some inspiration on ways to connect with a person with dementia.
How about you?
What stories can you share on experiences you’ve had over the festive season which have resulted in pleasant and enjoyable family occasions for people with dementia? Add a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!