Stick to Routines
Within a care home environment, over the Christmas period, staff will do their utmost to make it an enjoyable time for all. At home, friends and family become busier than usual and may not be as readily available. For people living with dementia, they can have a hard time understanding the changes in routine.
It is important that close family, friends and neighbours keep close to familiar routines as much as possible and plan ahead for changes.
If medication is being taken, ensure that there will be enough to last the holiday period as repeat subscriptions may be harder to get.
Find a Quiet Place
Your home might become occupied by a larger than usual group of people on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It is important to create a quiet space where a loved one can relax and listen to their favourite music, watch their favourite film or TV programme, sit and look at old photographs and so on.
Keep Memories Alive
During Christmas, the traditions and memories that families have each year may be forgotten by someone living with dementia. Show them photos and videos of past years and ask for them to tell you their best Christmas memories.
By placing festive scented candles, decorating with memorable materials like tinsel and playing Christmas songs, it can help to evoke those memories. However, put these decorations up gradually. If the person living with dementia wants to help, do let them, they will feel a sense of involvement and achievement.
However, let the person living with dementia be your guide in understanding what traditions are no longer appropriate. Don’t insist on keeping memories and traditions alive, and make sure that ultimately the day is stress-free for them.
Help Make Food & Drink Simple
The meal preparations and continuous demand for drinks are already stressful enough at Christmas and can be even more daunting and confusing to someone living with dementia. Usual preparation and traditional recipes may differ slightly. If they’d still enjoy cooking the meal, let them do so whilst helping and reassuring them along the way. Try not to worry about timings as things can be heated up.
Keep the dinner table simple and avoid an overload of decorations and patterns. When plating the meal, avoid giving them a full plate of food as this can be daunting to someone who has eating difficulties.
Ultimately, be flexible and guide the person living with dementia through the festive season so that they do not become overwhelmed. It can be tough to understand the change in routines and so it is important that the people that are close are doing their part to help. Ensure that you remind your loved one of all the traditions and festive activities that you usually do and listen to what they want to do. By implementing these tips you can have a dementia-friendly Christmas this year,