Five tips for a dementia-friendly Christmas
Christmas is a wonderful time of year: getting together with friends and family, covering the house in festive decorations and food and drink aplenty. However, for those living with dementia, Christmas can be relatively stressful due to disruption of routine, changes to surroundings and pressures to socialise. Here are five tips to support those living with dementia during the festive period:
- Stick to routine as far as possible
A disruption to routines can be quite unsettling for those living with dementia, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Keeping to their usual routine, so having meals at regular times and in family surroundings, can help with those feelings.
- Allow the person living with dementia to be as involved as they wish to be
As a Dementia Friends Champion, I regularly deliver Dementia Friends Information Sessions to both staff here at Whitehead Monckton and the general public. Within these sessions, we explain that whilst a person may be in receipt of a dementia diagnosis, this does not mean that they are or are not able to carry on with their usual activities, and this will all depend on the individual’s circumstances. When we see a person with dementia, we see a person first, not the dementia, and they therefore should not be treated any differently. It is therefore encouraged to involve the person with the planning and preparation as far as their circumstances allow, as positive engagement will help them to feel loved and appreciated.
- Play seasonal music
Whether you are a fan of traditional carols or the Christmas chart classics, it is fair to say that music plays a big part of Christmas. For those who watched Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure on the BBC, you will be aware of just how beneficial music can be for those living with dementia; it can unlock memories of once forgotten lyrics and bring joy to their lives.
- Prepare a quiet area
Having a large amount of guests in the home can be overwhelming for those living with dementia, as can increased noise levels. You could look to either spread out visits so that there are not too many people present or once, or perhaps create a quiet but familiar room for the person living with dementia to retire to should they wish to relax and take a break from the festivities.
- Be considerate of portion sizes
I think we are all guilty of overindulging in food and piling up the plates at Christmas time. A full plate can be quite daunting for someone who is experiencing difficulties eating, so if this applies to your loved one, an idea could be to not overload their plate. The Alzheimer’s Society has lots of tips for eating and drinking on their website.
Whatever shape or form your festivities take place this year, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2022.
Article written by Amy Turner-Ives, Trainee Legal Executive, Chair of Building a Dementia Friendly Maidstone and Dementia Friends Champion