Tis the Season: Manage the Holidays To Dos While Caring for Your Loved One with Dementia Like a Pro!

The holiday season is upon us!  How did November get here 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.

 

Stay in the Moment

 

Staying Routine

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.

Reminisce

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.

Happy Holidays!

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.

Let’s Celebrate Our Timeless Family Traditions. They Matter!

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First Posted by Sixty and me
The kitchen is often known as the heart of the home, and it has always been my favorite place during the holiday season. The hustle and bustle start shortly after Halloween as the grocery lists get started, and the famous family recipes emerge from their recipe boxes.

 

From Generation to Generation

These recipes are handed down from our mothers’ grandmother to her mother, to her, and now to the new generation of women starting a home and new traditions of their own. Just like the women before her nervously attempting the recipe for the first time.

Cooking becomes a catalyst for something even greater than the meal itself. It is a chance for women to come together to share stories, embrace experiences, and to impart the wisdom to others that only age will allow you to gain.

As we gear up for this holiday season, let’s remember the women who came before us – those who started our beloved customs.

Grandma’s Apron

“The Apron” is a powerful symbol that for many women evoke memories of the time and women who came before them. In the poem “Grandma’s Apron” Tina Trivett tells us how the use and meaning of an apron far exceed its purpose as a clothing protector:

The strings were tied, it was freshly washed, and maybe even pressed.

For Grandma, it was every day to choose one when she dressed.

The simple apron that it was, you would never think about;

The things she used it for, that made it look worn out.

She may have used it to hold some wildflowers that she’d found.

Or to hide a crying child’s face when a stranger came around.

Imagine all the little tears that were wiped with just that cloth.

Or it became a potholder to serve some chicken broth.

She probably carried kindling to stoke the kitchen fire.

To hold a load of laundry, or to wipe the clothesline wire.

When canning all her vegetables, it was used to wipe her brow.

You never know, she might have used it to shoo flies from the cow.

She might have carried eggs in from the chicken coop outside.

Whatever chore she used it for, she did them all with pride.

When Grandma went to heaven, God said she now could rest.

I’m sure the apron that she chose was her Sunday best.

Stories as Gifts to Each Other

This seemingly ordinary item can hold a very special place in our hearts. Sharing the stories of the women in our lives who wore them is an excellent way to both honor them and to keep their memory alive.

Our mother’s apron, or even a new apron, is a wonderful sentimental gift to give during the holidays. And it will surely be put to good use once all of the family recipes are shared.

Family Recipes

Almost every family has a famous recipe that has been handed down through the generations. Whether neatly displayed in a cookbook, placed on cards in the recipe box, or collected as handwritten notes on scraps of paper mixed with magazine clippings in a shoe box, those sought-after recipes are a window to the past.

My favorite bits are always the handwritten alterations that turn an ordinary dish into a staple at the holiday table. And, as the extended family comes into town, the holidays are a perfect reason to get out those family favorites.

My Great Grandmother’s Raisin Pie recipe is a family favorite, and with special permission from my Grandmom I’d like to share it with all of you:

Granny’s Raisin Pie

1 cup raisins

2 cups water

¾ cup sugar

4 tablespoons flour

1 beaten egg

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

¼ teaspoon salt

pre-prepared pastry (pan and to cover)

First, wash raisins and place in a bowl covered with the water. Let soak 1 to 3 hours.

Mix sugar, egg and flour, stirring in lemon juice and salt and mix well.

Bring raisins and their soaking liquid to a boil for 5 minutes and add to mixture.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Pour filling into a pastry lined pan. Cover with top crust, seal edges and cut slits in the top.

Place in oven and bake for 12 minutes.

Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.

I remember as a child mimicking the process of measuring and mixing and how excited I was when offered the chance to stir the batter. Even still today, stirring is my favorite part!

‘Tis the Season for Holiday Traditions

These time old traditions offer a unique chance to make new memories while we cherish the old. So as the smells of gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce fill the room, and the sounds of Miracle on 34th Street play in the background, let’s take a moment to reflect on all of the special family customs we’ve maintained after all of these years. Let’s be thankful that we can share them with the newest members of the family.

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