For most people, the festive season is a fun and joyous time of year – getting together with family, relatives and friends to celebrate the holidays. However, for people living with dementia and their caregivers, the festive season can be a stressful time of the year. The following article is intended to provide some general considerations about having a relaxing and enjoyable time as much as possible for the persons with dementia and their caregiver.
People living with dementia will react in a different way to the changes in routine around the festive season where the family usually gets together. This can trigger emotional memories that could be difficult for the person with dementia to deal with.
People with dementia can become anxious in a crowded environment. Make sure a quieter spacious area is made available for them. It may be of help to think of familiar activities and tasks that a person is doing in their day-to-day life. Some examples of activities may include: sharing happy moments and celebrations, looking at old photographs together, listening to favorite music, taking walks, etc. Have them in your activities and reassure them that their help is valued.
Those living with dementia may get some comfort from spiritual activities if they are religious. Think of their past religious attitudes, and to try to accommodate their wishes. This may include listening to familiar church music or visiting familiar places of worship.
The festive season can be an unsettling time. Some people with dementia may become confused, anxious or aggressive. Spend time explaining things and offering re-assurances often.
Although it is easier said than done, keeping in mind the following ways of coping with stress as much as possible may help the caregiver.
Written by Tom Teranishi
Japanese translation by Tomoko Koike
This article was originally published in December 2012 and December 2015 issues of the Bulletin.
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