Most people look forward to holiday celebrations as a time to enjoy family and take a break from day-to-day life. However, when an elderly person has dementia, holidays can often mean confusion, worry, stress
Comparing Then and Now
If elderly relatives were once able to enjoy the fun and festivities of family gatherings, they did so because they had a true understanding of what was happening. With dementia, so many factors come into play concerning recall and behavior changes. Seniors who once were the center of the celebration can become uneasy, rude, forgetful and even upset at the changes to their routine. If they used to be fine with traveling, they may be uncomfortable with it now. Even decorations can stimulate a range of emotions and memories that may agitate aging adults with dementia.
Instead of making a big deal over the aging adult participating in holiday events that pull them away from their comfortable routines and familiar faces, family caregivers should evaluate whether the noise, crowds
Alternative Holiday Celebrations
While it is perfectly fine to skip holiday celebrations with seniors and dementia, some might do well with small gatherings or low-stress events. Family caregivers can host simple parties with a few close family members, friends and senior care providers for their aging relative. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and stressed, the elderly adult with dementia may respond better and feel more at ease.
Family caregivers and senior care providers can also integrate festivities and traditions into the senior’s daily schedule. Examples include filling out holiday cards to mail, making a holiday craft, and listening to holiday music. They may enjoy exchanging presents with one or two people in their lives, such as a senior care provider or adult children. Some seniors may also enjoy driving around to look at lights or attend a worship service. The key to success is to simplify as much as possible and only focus on aspects of the holiday that won’t cause negative issues with the aging adult.
Skipping the stressful and frustrating aspects of arranging holiday events for seniors can also provide family caregivers with some relief. However, some family caregivers may feel guilty about this decision, as if they are robbing their aging loved one from the joy of the holidays. Once they understand that they only need to do as much as their aging relative with dementia can handle, they feel relief and can do a good job of blending their elderly loved one’s needs with what is best for them.