Spending time with loved ones over Christmas is what the festive season is all about, and for those living with dementia it’s just as important.
There are, however, considerations to make when spending the festive period together, in order to make it an enjoyable experience for all.
Dementia wellbeing brand, Active Minds, have put together their top tips for creating an enjoyable day for someone living with dementia.
Food and drink
Eating is a big part of the day, and the Christmas meal itself can be fantastic for evoking memories and encouraging conversation. If the person living with dementia is able, involve them in the cooking process. You could even talk about recipes from the past. The smell and taste of the food can be a highly sensory and engaging experience for all.
It’s important to remember when serving a Christmas dinner, that appetite may change as someone progresses along the dementia journey. Therefore try not to overwhelm them with too much food. Alcohol consumption should also be considered and taken only in moderation. Whilst it can be enjoyable to consume with others, dementia is linked to memory loss. The person living with dementia may consume more than they are aware of, which could lead to confusion.
Christmas can be overwhelming, with a variety of noises, visitors and increases in decorations. Set up a quiet space for the person with dementia to spend some time can be beneficial for relaxation. You can also have the opportunity to spend some time with the individual away from the chaos of Christmas day.
Too many visitors all at once may be confusing and overwhelming for someone living with dementia. Try and stagger visits throughout the day or introduce the person with dementia to each person in smaller groups. For those with later stage condition, it may also be beneficial to show photographs of each visitor before they arrive and talk about that person to create familiarity.
Christmas day activities can be a lot of fun, from board games to karaoke. These can all be fantastic for someone living with dementia also. Small considerations may have to be made, for example playing a dementia friendly board game. Use dice cards instead of rolling dice, or perhaps playing music or watching films from the person’s childhood. These dementia games can help evoke memories and spark conversations, as well as being relaxing social activities for spending some time together.
For those spending Christmas in a care home, it’s important to bring festivities to them. Whether this is visiting with various family members, joining them for a Christmas meal or opening gifts together. Christmas is a fantastic time to reminisce so why not take photographs of Christmases of the past and sit with your loved one and talk about each one.