Holidays are often 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 stressful.
To help your older adult have a happy holiday season and to reduce your own stress, scale things back and modify traditional activities so they’ll feel calm, safe, and included.
Even if your older adult might not remember these holiday activities later, the warm feelings they’ll have is a different kind of memory their body will carry for a while.
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
If you’re stressed and anxious, they’re likely to get stressed and agitated too. That can lead to challenging 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.
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 likely be overwhelming and stressful to do everything “like we used to” and be able to 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 choosing something meaningful to them like trimming the Christmas tree, lighting the menorah, singing traditional songs, or baking special holiday treats.
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 current abilities and have them help with small tasks they can successfully accomplish. 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 re-do any essential tasks later.
4. Limit holiday decorations
Use moderation when decorating. Too much clutter, decor, or twinkling lights could cause overstimulation and disorientation.
Focus on cheerful items that bring back happy memories and are important to family traditions.
Recommended for you:
- 5 Best Alzheimer’s Holiday Tips for an Enjoyable Season
- 10 Stress Relief Tips to Get You Through the Holidays: Self Care for Caregivers
- 4 Reasons Dementia Activities Are Important and 5 Ways to Adapt Everyday Tasks
By DailyCaring Editorial Team