It is common for people with dementia to lack enthusiasm and interest in holidays.
Caregivers may feel nostalgic over activities that their loved ones no longer understand or are able to participate in. Special traditions, such as decorating the house, lighting candles, or having company over for a meal may become too bothersome or dangerous to continue.
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The holiday season can disrupt routines that have barely been established. Changes to the daily schedule or the presence of new or many people around can upset people with dementia.
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Depression is common among the older population, and holidays can increase or compound feelings of sadness. The person with dementia may feel a sense of loss during the holidays. They may miss a loved one who they lost a long time ago, may not recognize the family around them, or may feel that someone is missing. Caregivers may also feel a sense of loss since their loved one is not the same as they were all of the holidays prior.
Try these things with your elder.
- Creating photo albums
- Writing and addressing greeting cards
- Listening to holiday music
- Watching a favorite holiday movie
- Reading holiday or religious stories
Most of all take your time. Enjoy small victories. This year I will be going through many of these same things with my grandmother. I look forward to hearing how you will be dealing with it this year.
Often Dementia and Alzheimer’ sufferers become fearful, agitated, and even confused when surrounded by a large number of people. Even when all in a group are family the Alzheimer’s sufferer can still become confused since it’s difficult to remember everyone. Sometimes they may say or do things that are inappropriate if they feel stressed. They may embarrass you and feel humiliated themselves.
Keep your expectations low and plan simple, easy activities to share with the Dementia and Alzheimer’s patient.
It is important to be realistic about what is manageable both for the person with dementia and you as the care-giver.
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