Holiday gatherings mean a difference in routines for all of us, and while that can be a welcome thing for many, it can be a difficult thing for people with dimentia issues.  Sherii Sherban talked about it on the 95.3 WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins on the "Miles for Memories Moment."

  1. Keep groups small to avoid over-stimulation for the person w/dementia
  • Too much people, noise, activity can over-stimulate 
  • Don’t feel stuck with the usual traditions, make changes that will help your older adult stay calm and relaxed.
  • Choose smaller get-togethers spread over a couple of weeks. Or, limit the guest list to immediate family only. Rather than one large party.
  1. Schedule important activities for their best time of day
  • Choose the most meaningful holiday activities and schedule them for times when your senior is most likely to participate successfully.
  • Is their agitation in the evening? Do they prefer to sleep in?
  1. Set aside a private, quiet space and encourage one-on-one visits
  • Whether the holiday gathering is at your house or a relative’s, it may be crowded and noisy. 
  • To avoid overstimulating your senior, arrange for a quiet place away from the group when needed.
  • Family members can take turns spending quality time with them in their calm space.
  1. Plan activities they’ll enjoy – include them – Reminiscing is enjoyable
  • If mom still loves to bake, organize a group cookie-making session. If dad loves watching football, have everyone watch a game together.
  • Choose music they enjoyed when young. Family sing-a-long to their favorite tunes. Sing traditional holiday songs. Maybe a little dance party.
  1. Avoid big changes in diet
  • Many older adults have sensitive digestive systems. 
  • Limit foods that are too different from their ordinary diet.
  • Rich foods could upset their stomach and alcohol can cause problems with many medications. 
  • Sugar or alcohol may cause some to behave differently or challenging 
  1. Help children spend time with seniors
  • Holidays are a great opportunity for older adults to spend time w children
  • Talking with children ahead of time about dementia helps them overcome fears and encourages them to spend time with your older adult. 
  • Before the holiday visit, let kids know that odd behaviors or angry outbursts aren’t their fault, but are a normal part of the disease. 
  • During the visit, have an adult keep an eye on the kids in case your older adult says or does something unexpected.
  1. Take a short break yourself – A brief respite
  • While family is around, take advantage of the opportunity and ask someone to take care of your older adult for an hour or two. 
  • Don’t wait for someone to offer, they might not realize you need (and deserve!) a break.
  • Take a nap, a long shower, watch some TV, call a friend…anything that helps you relax.
  • Taking a break, even brief allows you to rest, recharge, and de-stress. After your well-deserved break, you’ll be better able to help your senior have the best holiday possible.