6 Senior Care Tips for Creating Dementia Friendly Holidays in Durham

December 1, 2016

Senior care is very important during the holidays, especially if elderly family members are dealing with dementia.  The holidays can be overwhelming to dementia sufferers as large families gather to celebrate. The many sounds of laughter, racing children and crowded living rooms can create a frightening experience for those that can be over stimulated from their normal calm environments. There are ways to make your family member feel safe, engaged and loved.

Use the Buddy System
Always have a trusted person by the side of the dementia sufferer. Most people will prefer their spouse, but if the spouse needs a break, get another friend or relative to sit with them and chat. Talk with them quietly and introduce them to anyone that comes up to talk.

Smooth the Way for Connections
Help reduce anxiety and confusion by introducing yourself and telling them how you are related. You can say, “I am Mary, your cousin from Georgia” or “Remember me? It is Mark from church.” These introductions can help explain their context and make the encounters less stressful.

Be a Compassionate Listener
Maintain eye contact and listen to the conversation. Do not try to correct them. Just enjoy the conversation and act lovingly.

Create an Escape Plan
Too much stimulation can be overwhelming. Create a place for some quiet time or be ready to drive them back home when the person tires of the activity.

Enjoy Preparations
Part of creating a great holiday is including everyone in the festivities. Find a activity that they can do such as preparing cookies, snapping beans or making sandwiches. This allows them to engage and contribute. Also, include them in decorating if possible. It might spark a conversation about past memories and holidays.

The Sounds of Dementia Inclusive
Try to include music that the dementia sufferer will enjoy from their generation. You can sing or hum along to some songs. Ask them questions about the songs and what they remember from that time.
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