How to have a dementia-friendly Christmas
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But not everyone feels that way. Christmas can be an overwhelming time for people living with dementia. These tips will help you have a dementia-friendly Christmas.
If you’re celebrating at home
Create somewhere quiet
We can all get overwhelmed now and then, people living with dementia are no different. Having an easily accessible quiet room where people can take breaks from the celebrations can be a great help. Make sure to check in throughout the day with anyone who needs additional support and let them know there is a quiet space available.
Making eating easy
Some symptoms of dementia cane make eating and drinking more difficult. Memory loss, difficulties identifying food and drinks, and sight loss can also make eating and drinking challenging.
Making sure you consider which foods are most likely to appeal most to your guests can be helpful. Easy to hold portions like finger foods are a good idea, and non-verbal communication like holding up a mug when offering a cup of tea can also be helpful.
Decorations and layout
It’s important to think about the layout of the home and the decorations you use. Festive decorations can be great at prompting conversation and reminisce, however try to make sure things don’t look too different as this can be disorienting. Make sure toilets are easily accessible and use signs where possible.
Stay warm and plan some inclusive activities to do at home. Preparing a memory box can make a great festive gift. You could pick items from around the home such as photos, CDs, recipes, or pieces of jewellery. Anything that sparks conversation and happy memories!
You could also plan a day of reminiscing. Cook a loved one’s favourite childhood recipe or sweet treat, make a playlist of favourite songs, or watch old films.
If you’re heading out and about
Help a neighbour
Do you have a neighbour who might need a helping hand, or who can’t head out in the cold weather? If you’re making a trip to the local shop or post office why not ask if they need anything. Something as simple as picking up stamps, or taking letters to the post box can help someone stay connected to friends and family.
Volunteer your time
Many local events and organisations need help this time of year. Reach out to local care homes to ask if they need help writing Christmas cards to residents, or volunteer to help at a local event. You can find local many volunteering opportunities with Age UK North Tyneside.
Show your understanding
Be patient with strangers, remember that you don’t know their circumstances. Something as simple as acknowledging that some people may need longer to pay at tills, might become disorientated in shops and might become overwhelmed in public places can go a long way to helping someone feel safer when out and about.
Having patience and understanding and identifying situations where you can help can work wonders.
If you feel that you or your loved one would benefit from additional support, we offer both respite and day services and homecare. For dementia-specific support and advice, get in touch with the Age UK North Tyneside Dementia Connections team.