Let's face it, the holidays are always a little stressful aren't they? I find that if I acknowledge that right up front then I am better prepared for what may arise. Whether you are hosting Christmas festivities at your house, you are going down the street to see relatives, or maybe you're driving across country trying to make it home before it is officially Christmas! If you are taking care of someone with dementia there are ways that you can make the family get together stress free...mostly!
One of the best things that I've come across is the family email. Sending an email to the ones who will be gathering explaining things that might be upsetting or confusing is your first line of defense. This can come in handy for relatives that may not be around most of the time. Sending one email to multiple people can save you time, can diffuse the tension that might arise later while it also gives relatives that live far away a heads up on what to expect.
If you are a caregiver for someone who has dementia you already know that evening is not your friend. If you usually have an evening celebration consider changing it to a brunch/lunch/breakfast instead of night. If you can't change it then make sure the room is well lit.
Old family traditions can be your friend and continuing them is very important. Chances are if it's a tradition that 's been around for awhile the person with dementia might remember at least part of it. If you sing carols around the piano on Christmas Eve then continue to sing!
Let the person with dementia help you get things ready as their abilities allow. Wrapping food, helping with decorations, or something along this line will help them feel involved in the whole process. Trying to keep the chaos to a minimum will also go a long way.
A holiday is still a holiday whether it is celebrated at home or at a care facility. Here are some ways to celebrate together if your loved one is in a memory care center:
Consider joining your loved one in any facility-planned holiday activities
Bring a favorite holiday food to share
Sing holiday songs and ask if other residents can join in
Read a favorite holiday story or poem out loud
There quite a few ways to get through the holidays this year with minimal caregiver stress. I hope this helps your family have a great holiday season!