The holiday season is upon us! How did November get here and end so quickly? I wanted to write a short piece so to not to add to your already mad rush of preparations. This time of year, while fun, can be incredibly frantic. There is so much to do in a seemingly short period of time, and this is all while you are trying to still juggle every day to do lists.
The hustle and bustle of the season are also stressful for our loved ones with dementia. They quickly pick up on our emotions and the decorations can stir up a lot of childhood memories, which is fun to reminisce but can also be a bit disorienting to them.
Time management is probably the best thing you can do this Holiday season for your loved one living with dementia. This means maintaining a regular schedule and adding additional time to get ready. There may feel like there is no time to do much of anything and here I am telling you to add more time, I know, however, when we plan in advanced there is less disruption once you finally get to sit down and enjoy the festivities. Your loved one will feel more relaxed and in the moment when you feel this way, and they too will be able to enjoy the festivities just like everyone else.
Include them in Activites
It is faster to decorate and bake cookies or meal prep when you do it by yourself. However, what is your loved one doing while your busy preparing? Probably feeling a bit left out and alone. Include them in the hubbub of the season and let them help where they can even if that means they become a taste tester. Not only is it fun but it helps build self-esteem and makes them feel more in control at the moment. In my experience, many individuals living with dementia-like having tasks it is familiar to them and offers them a sense of self.
The holidays are always a bit nostalgic. This doesn’t go away with dementia, and in fact, it can increase the memories of the past. Listening to their stories and engaging them in conversations is a beautiful way to celebrate and engage with your loved one. Too much, however, can become disorienting so if you feel your loved one is becoming anxious or starts looking for their parents who they think are missing out on all the fun change up the conversation to something a bit more current like what yummy food is on the dinner menu.
Above all have fun! As adults, it is so easy to become caught up in the frenzy that by the New Year we can’t believe its all over. The best advice I can give is to enjoy the time you have with each other and stay in the moment the best you can. You deserve to spend as much time as you can with your parent and loved one even if that means not everything on your To Do lists gets checked off.