The holiday season is a time to come together and celebrate with loved ones, but for seniors, it can be a challenging and overwhelming time. That’s why it’s important to be prepared when spending the holidays with your senior loved ones.
The Importance of Prepping for Holidays With Seniors
Your senior loved one holds a special place in your heart, and including them in your holiday preparations is not only essential but also incredibly rewarding. These moments create lasting memories that you’ll cherish forever. However, if your loved one is living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, you may also feel like the holidays are a time of extra stress and worry, asking yourself:
- How will Grandma react if we have family and friends over for a party?
- Will she recognize her children and grandchildren?
- Should I take her shopping with me?
Senior holidays can still be enjoyable and memorable, even if your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s. With some tradition modifications, you can still enjoy the spirit of the holiday season.
Ways to Support Seniors During the Holidays
Here are some tips to keep senior holiday activities enjoyable for you and your loved one:
Give Family Members and Friends a Heads Up
Whether it’s your grandparents, parents, or other senior family members, it’s crucial to keep everyone in the loop about their current situation. Take a moment to write a heartfelt letter or email, letting them know about any cognitive difficulties or behavioral changes that your loved one may be experiencing. This way, when they come for the festivities, they’ll already be aware of what to expect. A little heads up goes a long way.
It’s also a good idea to provide your family members with tips for communicating with your loved one, such as:
- Approach them from the front to avoid startling them.
- Avoid arguing or correcting their statements, even if incorrect.
- Speak slowly and clearly. Keep sentences short and simple.
- Reintroduce yourself and help them make the connection.
- For example, “Hi, Uncle George, I’m Sarah, Margaret’s daughter”.
Host or Attend Small, Intimate Gatherings
Hosting or attending small, intimate gatherings allows you to decrease overstimulation and create a more comfortable environment for your loved one. Seniors often face sensory overload during this time of the year, with bright lights, loud music, and crowded spaces. However, by organizing smaller gatherings, you can provide a calmer, more enjoyable experience for them. Imagine the smiles that will light up their faces when they can engage in meaningful conversations, reminisce about their favorite holiday memories, and simply feel loved and valued. Don’t underestimate the power of these small gatherings. It’s the little moments that make the biggest impact.
Scale Back the Decorations
Studies show that excess holiday decorations can overwhelm seniors, especially those with dementia or sensory issues. By keeping it simple, you can create a more comfortable and enjoyable environment for them. You can still deck the halls with a few meaningful and minimalistic decorations that bring joy without overwhelming our beloved seniors. How about a beautifully decorated tree, a cozy wreath, or some soothing fairy lights? Remember, it’s the thought that counts.
Adapt Your Shopping and Gift Giving
Avoid the hustle and bustle of peak hours and crowded stores when shopping with seniors. Instead, opt for quieter times of the day or even weekdays when stores are calmer. This way, they can comfortably browse and take their time without feeling overwhelmed. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for some quality bonding time.
You should also keep in mind that adapting your shopping list is okay when a person has dementia. There’s no longer a need to add stress to a senior by having them buy a gift for every family member. In addition, a couple of thoughtful gifts for the senior from the family as a whole, such as comfy layers, warm socks, or hand lotion is more than sufficient.
Maintain Routines as Much as Possible
One of the simplest yet impactful ways you can help your senior loved one during the holidays is by encouraging them to maintain their routines as much as possible. Whether it’s sticking to their daily exercises, regular meals, or favorite hobbies, routine brings stability and a sense of normalcy. By assisting them in maintaining their routines, you can bring some much-needed joy to their lives. For example, you can join them in their daily walks and make it a fun family activity, encouraging conversation and laughter along the way. This not only benefits their physical health, but also strengthens family bonds.
Involve Your Loved One in Holiday Traditions and Memories
Involve your senior family members in your holiday traditions, and let the magic of memories come alive. Time spent together is the greatest gift, so why not make it extra special? Get grandma or grandpa involved in decorating the Christmas tree, baking cookies, or hanging up stockings. Imagine the smiles on their faces as they share their own stories and pass on their wisdom to future generations. It’s a precious opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level and to create memories that will last a lifetime.
Look at Family Photo Albums
The holidays can be a magical time, but they can also be challenging for seniors with dementia. One simple way to support our loved ones is by revisiting family photo albums. When memories fade, flipping through photo albums can work wonders. The power of visuals often triggers emotions and brings back cherished memories. So, gather around the fireplace, cozy up, and take a trip down memory lane. Moreover, the act of reminiscing boosts cognitive functions and helps maintain mental stimulation. It promotes a sense of belonging and reinforces family bonds, creating a soothing and reassuring environment.
Take Care of Yourself
One crucial step in supporting your senior loved one during the holidays is to remember to take care of yourself. As a caregiver, it’s easy to forget about your own needs amidst the holiday chaos. However, by prioritizing self-care, you can better manage stress and provide the best possible care for your loved one. Take breaks and engage in activities that bring you joy and peace. It could be enjoying a cup of tea or taking a walk in nature. By nurturing yourself, you’ll have more energy and patience to give to your loved ones.
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By adjusting your expectations and modifying some traditions, you can find real joy in the holiday season. If you have questions regarding making your senior holiday memorable, contact Fairmont today. We can give you some guidance on how to make your loved ones’ holiday season enjoyable and memorable.