Dementia is a degenerative disease which can get worse over time and lead to the decrease of a person’s memory and mobility and in turn have an impact on their behavioural state. With careful consideration this Christmas, you can ensure that all loved ones join in with the festive fun.
At Trinity Homecare, we recognise that Christmas is a time for having festive fun with your family. We appreciate this time of year can also pose many challenges for families who have a loved one living with dementia and can often leave a person feeling overwhelmed.
That’s why Trinity Homecare are sharing with you our tips and guidance on how you can have a joyful and dementia-friendly Christmas this year.
How to help someone with dementia at Christmas
If you’re planning Christmas for someone with dementia, you can ensure your loved one joins in with all the fun and festivity over the most wonderful time of year by following our heartfelt tips.
“With Christmas cards, my mum still wanted to send them out, so I got her to write her name on a piece of paper. I then scanned, resized and copied them and printed them out onto computer labels. Mum helped me to stick in a few of the labels so she felt involved.” Soobee, Talking Point
Stick to a routine that is familiar and simple
Daily routines are extremely helpful for those with dementia, as due to the illness, they often struggle to retain new information. But there are a few simple ways that you can minify this during Christmas time.
Although it can be tempting to go ‘all-out’ at Christmas, with decorations, food and all the other festive traditions, we advise keeping it as simple as possible. Familiar surroundings and objects can help to retain a level of calmness for someone with dementia, as sudden changes can be unsettling and create greater confusion.
If your loved one usually has meals at a set time, or there are particular programmes that they like to watch, we suggest sticking to this at Christmas too. Quite often all your tv favourites will be presenting a Christmas special anyway, so this can still be a great way for the family to all spend the celebrations together.
Consider the time
For people with dementia, the time of day can have an impact on their mood and functionality. Whilst this may not affect every individual in the same way, it can be useful to bear this in mind when planning out your daily activities.
If you’re having the family round to your house this year, try and plan for any big events such as opening presents to take place before or after seeing your loved one as; this can be very exhausting for someone with dementia. Be sure to keep an eye on them and if you notice they’re getting a little tired, you know it’s time to call it a day.
Buying a gift for your loved one is a really thoughtful idea but it can be difficult to know what is a suitable present for someone with dementia, so we’ve listed some suggestions below to help get you started.
Practical footwear – People with dementia are prone to trips and falls, especially in colder months or where their mobility is limited. Practical shoes that are comfortable and sturdy make a great present as they can help reduce the risk of falls – whilst also offering much-needed support. You can find a great range of footwear across the high street, from the likes of Clarks Shoes to your local supermarket
Photo/memory gifts – family photos or photo albums can really help someone with dementia to remember their family members and key life events. Sites including Not on the Highstreet offer a range of photo gifts or you can even have fun making your own photo collage or album.
Comfortable clothing – For those with severe forms of dementia, non-restrictive clothing can really help with their mobility and allow them to carry out everyday tasks. Loungewear or pyjamas can be great options but be sure to choose trousers with fitted cuffs to avoid potential trips occurring.
Use prompts as a way to reminisce and remember
When it comes to planning Christmas for someone with dementia, it’s best to introduce them to the festivities slowly.
Try involving them in simple tasks that aren’t strenuous, but are familiar to them to help to keep their brain stimulated, such as putting up a few decorations together. Alternatively, sharing something with them which they will recognise from a previous Christmas is a great way to try and boost their relation to this special time of year.
Music can be a great way to connect with a loved one who has dementia. Studies have shown that although dementia affects the way that part of the brain retains information, it doesn’t have the same effect on the part of the brain that stores music memory. Try playing music which your loved one will have listened to in their earlier years and see how they respond to it. This is a great way to ensure they are engaged within the fun and festivity.
Be mindful of food choices and portion sizes
A big Christmas dinner is what many of us look forward to this time of year, however, large platefuls can be daunting and even difficult to eat for someone living with dementia.
Try serving your loved one a smaller portion to help make their meal feel more manageable, also, consider cutting the food up into smaller pieces for them so that it’s easier to digest. Doing this will help to ensure that all of your loved ones are able to have an enjoyable Christmas meal and join in with the festive celebrations in a way that is appropriate for their needs.
Reminding your loved one that they don’t have to finish the whole meal in one go can help ease any pressure, you can also offer them the opportunity to take any leftovers back with them which they can enjoy later.
Be flexible with the plans for the day
Although many of us will have our Christmas traditions which we want to continue year on year, it’s important to be flexible with your plans and be able to adapt to the needs of those living with dementia.
Remember that dementia is a degenerative disease and that it can progress within a person. For those who are providing care at Christmas, by being open with your plans, it will help your mental well-being.
By having no fixed expectations in place of how you envision your Christmas day panning out, you can ensure your mental wellbeing is also looked after.
We hope you have a happy dementia-friendly Christmas this year!
At Trinity Homecare, we hope that you have found our tips and guidance helpful on how you can achieve both a dementia-friendly and festive Christmas this year!
It is important to remember that everyone with dementia is different and has different needs, so putting yourself in the shoes of those with the condition can help ensure you’re catering to their needs this Christmas. If you feel you still need extra guidance and support, our friendly Trinity team is always available and happy to help answer your queries.
You can always call a friendly member of the Trinity Homecare team, who will be more than happy to answer any of your further queries or concerns. Alternatively, you can get in touch with our online team by contacting us here.
We look forward to hearing from you and wish you all a safe and Merry Christmas.