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Tips of Caregivers During the Holidays

The holidays are full of family, fun and tradition, but for some caregivers and people living with dementia, this season can also be incredibly stressful.
Here are our top tips to help you and your loved one get through the holidays.
• Avoid crowded and noisy places:  Loud or crowded places can further confuse or frustrate someone living with dementia.  Too many people or too many noises can be overstimulating. Instead, try to choose smaller and more low-key events that would not add to confusion or stress.
• Designate a quiet room: If you are planning on having family or friends over, choose a room in the house that’s only for your loved one to go to if things become too hectic and overstimulating. Explain to your guests beforehand that the identified room is a safe haven from stress for the person living with dementia.  
• Join a support group: The rate of depression increases during and after the holidays so if you or your loved ones experience any signs of depression, contact a health care professional.
• Maintain routines: This can be challenging during when parties and holiday preparations disrupt our routine. Try however to keep your loved one’s routine unchanged. Some people living with dementia become confused or agitated in the evenings (sundowning).  Consider celebrating earlier in the day to work around this.  
• Prepare out-of-town guests:  The holidays are a great time to get families together but can be challenging for caregivers and guests alike. Let visiting family and guests know that their loved one may not remember them and explain any known behavioral issues. If the person is in the early stages of dementia, relatives and friends might not notice any changes. But the person living with dementia may have trouble following conversations or tend to repeat things. Make sure guests understand that changes in behavior or memory are caused by the disease and not the person.
• Trust your instincts: You know more than anyone else how much you and your loved one can handle without feeling overwhelmed. If an event or group of visitors may be stressful or troublesome give yourself permission to reschedule or decline. It is okay to say “no”.

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