Holidays are stressful for seniors with Alzheimer’s
Holidays bring a flurry of activity – changes in daily routine, conversations with extended family, and participation in annual traditions. For seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, this can be very stressful.
Here are 4 tips to help your older adult (and you) feel more relaxed and able to enjoy the fun of the holiday season.
4 tips to help seniors with Alzheimer’s enjoy the holidays
1. Minimize your own stress
People with Alzheimer’s or dementia are usually quite sensitive to other people’s moods and feelings. If you’re stressed and anxious, they’re likely to get stressed and agitated too. That can lead to difficult behaviors, which will then make you even more stressed. It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s not possible to completely eliminate stress, so just do your best to keep extra commitments to a minimum. That way, you won’t be overwhelmed by time-consuming holiday tasks. Ask family to help with your senior, use respite programs, hire in-home help, or start saying no to things you don’t want to do.
If stress starts getting the better of you, take a brief time out away from your older adult so it won’t affect them. Step into another room (even the bathroom) to take some deep breaths or do a 2 minute calming exercise.
2. Plan ahead to modify family traditions
With so many caregiving responsibilities, it will be overwhelming and stressful to do everything “like we used to” and find ways to make them work for your older adult. Minimize everyone’s stress by paring down and focusing on a few of the most meaningful traditions.
Ask your older adult which traditions they value most. This is a way to make them feel important and involved. That could mean trimming the Christmas tree, lighting the menorah, singing traditional songs, or baking special holiday cookies.
3. Let seniors get involved in preparations
Letting your older adult participate in the holiday preparations helps them feel included and get familiar with the upcoming festivities. Focus on their strengths and let them help with small tasks They’ll feel useful and be happily occupied while you work on other things.
- Peeling potatoes or carrots
- Rolling cookie dough
- Wiping the table
- Polishing silverware
- Stringing cranberries
- Wrapping presents
Even if they don’t do a great job, let them continue if they’re enjoying themselves. You can always re-do essential tasks later.
4. Limit holiday decorations
Use moderation when decorating. Too much clutter, decor, or twinkling lights can cause overstimulation and disorientation. Focus on cheerful items that bring back happy memories and are important to family traditions.
The goal is to help your older adult have a happy holiday season and to reduce your own stress. To do that, scale things back and modify traditional activities so they can feel calm, safe, and included.
They might not remember these holiday activities later, but the warm feelings they’ll have is a different kind of memory their body will carry for a while.
You might also like:
— 12 Ideas + Tips for Fun Holiday Activities with Seniors
— Q & A: Should You Correct Someone with Alzheimer’s?
— 3 Ways to Respond When Someone with Alzheimer’s Says I Want to Go Home
By DailyCaring Editorial Staff