Dementia is not a disease, it’s a condition that affects the entire range of thinking abilities. It is not just a memory or recall problem. According to The World Health Organization’s criteria for diagnosing dementia, it is “a gradual loss of memory and of the ability to form and organize ideas, severe enough to interfere with activities of daily living, and present for at least six months”.Routine and familiarity are key in care partnering with someone living with dementia.
During the Holidays routine and familiarity are often disrupted. While we may look forward to the Holiday Season, it can bring unique challenges to family caregivers. Holidays can be over-stimulating, may increase confusion resulting in aggression and "agitated" behaviors, interrupt daily routines, and are often stressful in normal circumstances. Alzheimer’s organizations see a spike in the number of assistance calls after a holiday
Thoughtful preparation can help avoid undue stress for care partners and their families. As a result, the Holidays can be much more enjoyable.
Visitors should know not to argue, question, explain or correct the person living with dementia, the idea is to help them stay calm in a potentially challenging circumstance.
Be prepared for the person not to recall names of visitors or to confuse them with relatives that may look similar.
Be respectful – do not talk in front of your loved one, even if you don’t think they understand.
Steer away from question-centered conversations (ex. What did you eat for breakfast?, Who is that? What do you want to do next?)
Bringing a gift? Check out our Top 8 Gifts for People Living with Dementia
by Melanie Cahill, MS, CCC-SLP, Aging Life Care Associate™