Christmas can be a challenging time for people with dementia and their friends and family too.
It can affect a person with dementia in lots of ways. Many people with the condition like to have a set routine and the busyness of the festive season often means that routines change, and this can upset someone with dementia.
Seeing lots of different people on the big day can often be confusing and distressing for a person with dementia. It’s not just the person with the condition that can be affected either, it can also put enormous pressure on family members and carers as they want to ensure their loved-one has a wonderful time on the big day. However, they shouldn’t feel guilty for keeping the day as normal as possible.
To ensure everyone has the best possible time, our expert carers have put together some top tips on making the festive season more dementia-friendly:
- Stick to routine as much as possible on the big day – have the person with dementia get up and do their morning routine as usual and try to keep lunch and dinner timings the same. If they are going to someone’s house for Christmas, then plan ahead and ensure there is somewhere quiet they can go if it all gets too much.
- Ensure the person with dementia has all the medication they need over the festive period as often chemists and doctor’s surgeries can have alternative opening hours at this time of year.
- Use Christmas songs, decorations or candles to evoke memories. Something they hear or see might spark a memory and could lead to a family conversation and trip down memory lane.
- You should try to involve them as much as possible. Perhaps they could help with setting the dinner table or help out in the kitchen, even if it is something as simple as stirring. It’s important a person with dementia feels included.
- Avoid having lots of different patterns and decorations at their dinner table place setting as this can cause confusion. Use a plain tablecloth if possible and use different coloured plates so they can differentiate between them. Also, try not to overfill the plate as a person with dementia can sometimes have difficulty with eating.
- It’s important to have a ‘plan B’. As much as you can plan the day for your loved-one, it might become too much and they might prefer to go home or to a quiet place for a bit of a rest. Don’t feel defeated if you have to action your back-up plan.
We always ensure our service users with dementia always see the same friendly faces they’re used to during the Christmas period and that their routine stays the same as much as possible. If anyone needs any more advice, they can get in touch with us.