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Supporting Someone with Dementia at Christmas

Supporting Someone with Dementia at Christmas

New Age Care News

Supporting Someone with Dementia at Christmas

Christmas can be very overwhelming for someone with dementia. A change of environment, a change of routine and lots of activity, all of these changes can cause the person with dementia to become anxious, worried and in some cases angry.

It can also be tough on the family of the person with dementia. Christmas can’t be the way you may hope and you will need to adapt your Christmas plans to accommodate your loved one.

But Christmas can still be a festive and enjoyable time.

Our Tips for Supporting your loved one at Christmas

To help you navigate this tricky time, we have put together some tips to help you and your loved one have a different but enjoyable Christmas:

Christmas Gift Ideas for Older Adults

Let go of preconceived ideas
We all want our loved one to have the perfect Christmas. We have it all planned in our mind - how it will look, who will be there, and how the day will go. Unfortunately, with dementia, life can be unpredictable. To help you and your loved one enjoy your day, you will need to let go of this perfect Christmas image. By all means plan some Christmas activities but be open to last minute changes and be prepared to go with the flow.

Keep Christmas Simple
Too much stimulation (activity, people and noise) can be too much for someone with dementia. Keep your plans for Christmas familiar and simple. Low key is definitely the way to go. Keep attendees to a minimum, keep the activities uncomplicated and don’t go overboard on decorations and food.

Introduce Christmas gradually
Sudden changes can be distressing for someone with dementia. Introduce Christmas decorations slowly, giving them a chance to adapt and get used to the new environment. Talk about Christmas plans ahead of time, potentially numerous times, so they’re not a surprise. This will help your loved one prepare for what is coming.

Keep numbers to a minimum
If you would normally have a big Christmas with family and friends then you may want to consider reducing numbers. If people are keen to see their loved one for Christmas, spread out the visits before and after Christmas to reduce the feeling of overwhelm.

Stick to routine
When scheduling in Christmas activities or planning Christmas day, try to stick to the person with dementia’s routine. Get them up at the usual time, serve their meals at the same time and if they sit in certain spot ensure that they can still do that. Routines can help someone with dementia feel safe and in control.

Create a quiet area
It’s great to plan Christmas activities but for someone with dementia too much activity can be overwhelming. Try to schedule in some down time or quiet time in the day to allow their mind and body to rest. You may also want to designate a particular area as a quiet zone on Christmas day, so the person has somewhere to retreat to when it all gets too much.

Be Flexible
It’s great to prepare and put plans in place for your Christmas but have a back up plan and be open to things changing. You and your loved are more likely to enjoy your Christmas if you are flexible and relax about how the day unfolds. If you don’t sit down together to eat the Christmas meal, does it really matter?

Further Support

Dementia UK

Alzheimer’s Society

Age UK

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