“The holidays are a time of excitement, anticipation, family gatherings and good cheer,” says Lonette Bentley, Executive Director at Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola, the beautiful new memory care community opening this December in Pensacola, Florida.
“But if you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia, the holiday season can also be a time of increased stress in the household. The added stimulation of the holidays with its busy pace and added ‘hustle and bustle’ can make your loved one with memory loss feel more anxious and trigger challenging behaviors.
“Fortunately,” she states, “experts in memory care and social engagement therapy offer useful tips that can make the holidays more meaningful and enjoyable for your loved one and the whole family.”
Holiday Guidelines for Caregivers
As noted in the article,“The Holidays and Alzheimer’s Families,” one of the ways you can keep the holidays calm and bright is to involve your loved one in your seasonal activities. For example:
- Build on past traditions and memories – Focus on activities that are meaningful to the person with dementia. Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs or looking through old photo albums.
- Involve the person in holiday preparation – As the person's abilities allow, invite him or her to help you prepare food, wrap packages, help decorate or set the table. This could be as simple as having the person measure an ingredient or hand decorations to you as you put them up.
Avoid using candies, artificial fruits/vegetables or other edibles as decorations. Blinking lights may confuse the person. Maintain the person's normal routine so that holiday preparations don't become disruptive or confusing.
Maintain a normal routine – Taking on too many tasks at one time can wear on you and the impaired person. Try to blend seasonal rituals into the daily activities that you both depend upon such as taking a relaxing walk.
Examples of Activities that Can Be Meaningful and Pleasing to Your Loved One
“Our experienced memory care therapists at Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola recommend that you try to create activities based on the things that your loved one has always been interested in – whether it’s reading, art, music, photography, sports or classic films.” Says Lonette. “For example, you could read Christmas stories with them, listen to seasonal music together, paint or draw pictures of holiday scenes or watch classic movies such as ‘Miracle on 34th Street and ‘White Christmas.’
“And while some activities might seem boring or repetitive to you, individuals with memory loss often find them calming and comforting.”
The article,“Dementia Holiday Activities That Lower Stress and Raise the Joy” offers some other helpful ideas to involve your loved one in the holiday fun and also keep their stress under control. For example:
- Decorate ornaments together – Help your loved one design their own ornament. You can get them started by simply purchasing a paint kit and some blank Christmas balls or other ornaments that your loved one can use as their personal canvass for self-expression. You might have to help them with the initial brush strokes.
- Bake cookies – A loved one once famous for her Christmas cookies may miss the kitchen activity. Together you could mix up a simple slice-and-bake dough and then let her slice the log and arrange the cookies on a baking sheet. You can also set out colored sugar, sprinkles, and other decorations for decorating a tray of sugar cookies or gingerbread men you've already cut-out. Children will enjoy helping with this, too.
- See the holiday lights – Take your loved one for a drive at night to view the beautifully decorated houses and shops in your area. You can also take a stroll down main street to see the store windows.
- Crack nuts – Equip your loved onewith an old-fashioned nutcracker and a big bowl of walnuts, pecans and Brazil nuts. This can be a nice, soothing activity for them.
In addition, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends the use of proven holistic therapy activities that utilize music and reminiscing to help loved ones express themselves, reconnect socially and remember their happy times in life.
- Sing Christmas carols –Singing favorite carols together can also be soothing and uplifting to your loved one. Because memory disorders normally affect long-term memory last, loved ones will often remember the words perfectly – and maybe better than you will.
- Play favorite holiday music throughout the day – The mental imprints are strong for the classic songs of the holidays, which make them especially soothing. Stick to classics you know your loved one will enjoy.
- Look at old photo albums and/or create a new photo album of past holidays – Reminiscing can be very enjoyable and reaffirming to your loved one and trigger vivid memories of people, places, events and stories from their past.Obviously, you’ll want to avoid any photos that might recall unpleasant thoughts.
The downloadable booklet,“Holiday Tips for the Caregiver,”also providesmany valuable tips for caregivers that can help you to have a safe, enjoyable holiday with your loved one with memory loss.
Serving Caregivers and Families with Valuable Memory Care Information and Support
At Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola, we offer more than exceptional memory care for loved ones with dementia. We are also a memory care resource for families. As we prepare for our grand opening this December, we invite you to visit our developing website for more updates and information.
You can also view Clarity Pointe’s memory care articles and tips for at-home caregivers and families on a variety of helpful topics that you can use today.
Clarity Pointe … Our Difference is Clear
Clarity Pointe’s Specialized Memory Care “Living” Neighborhoods are truly changing lives for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia – and for those who love them. At Clarity Pointe, our mission is to ensure our residents lead connected and rewarding lives.
Unlike other providers that offer a secure memory care wing in a skilled nursing or assisted living center, Clarity Pointe Pensacola offers three freestanding, purpose-built Memory Care communities that are solely and entirely dedicated to Memory Care Assisted Living. Our communities blend luxurious surroundings with specialized care that is individualized to each resident and delivered by a compassionate, expert team of professionals.
We stay current on the latest trends and advancements in Alzheimer’s care and implement them into our residents’ care plans. Always moving forward, we combine the latest in evidence-based programming with luxurious, residential living and compassionate respectful care.
For each of our residents, we offer a life that is engaging, fulfilling, inspiring and meaningful.