Be Patient: Engaging with Loved Ones During the Holidays

The holidays are a special time of year for families to cherish one another and create new memories. But, sometimes there is a sad elephant in the room and that’s a loved one’s battle with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. While it’s hard for anyone to see someone they care about go through this, that doesn’t mean you can’t create a happy holiday experience for them. 

South Coast Post Acute is one of southern California’s premier post-acute facilities that emphasize high standards of care. No matter what condition you’re dealing with, we’re always here to improve your health. Read our blog post below to learn how you can engage with a loved one during the holidays.

Create a Safe and Calm Environment

The most important thing you should do when hosting your holiday party is to make it comfortable for everyone. This is especially true for guests who are experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s. To create a positive environment you should:

  • Tone Down Decorations: You should avoid blinking lights or large decorative displays that can cause confusion. Additionally, avoid decorations that cause clutter or require you to rearrange a familiar room.
  • Avoid Safety Hazards: Another important tip is to make your home as safe as possible. This includes electric candles in place of real candles, avoiding fragile decorations, and forgoing artificial fruit displays for real fruit. 
  • Play Favorite Music: You can also create a comfortable environment for your loved ones by playing music they enjoy.

Adapt Your Activity for Safer Holidays

Another issue people face during the holidays is how to include loved ones with dementia in their holiday activities. While it does take a lot of effort, you can feel good knowing this person is still being active in your holiday traditions. Some activities include:

  • Preparing Food Together: This includes mixing batter, decorating cookies, and helping make that famous holiday dish they were known for. It’s important that you focus on the task and your time together rather than the outcome.
  • Host a Small Gathering: Going back to a safe and calm environment, it’s a good idea to keep your holiday celebrations relaxed with only a small group of people. This way the party remains comfortable for your loved one.
  • Avoid Any Disruptions: In addition to hosting a small celebration, make sure the party doesn’t disrupt their routine. Plan a gathering at the best time of day for the person with dementia.
  • Keep Your Outings Brief: While these celebrations are good for everyone involved, that doesn’t mean there won’t be setbacks. Plan to be brief or to leave early if necessary to make sure your loved one gets the rest they need.

Celebrate the Holidays at Their Care Facility

We know, holidays in a care facility are never the funnest. But, they provide a safe space for dementia patients and offer you a chance to engage with them during this special time of year. Here are some tips to celebrating in these environments:

  • Celebrate in a Familiar Setting: Sometimes a change in environment can cause major distress. Hosting a very small celebration at your loved ones’ facility may be the best course of action.
  • Minimize Visitor Traffic: As mentioned, limiting who takes part in the celebration is a must. That makes it a good idea to coordinate which family members will see the loved one on different days, as too large of a group may be overwhelming for them.

South Coast Post Acute is Here to Help Make Your Holiday Easier

At South Coast Post Acute, our experienced healthcare staff and memory care professionals help your loved one engage the mind through specialized exercises. Our memory care services are designed to engage the mind of seniors with dementia in a safe and healthy environment. To achieve this, we focus on three aspects of care: diet, customized medications, and effective care techniques. Contact us today and learn why we’re Southern California’s rehabilitation center of choice in Santa Ana.

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