by Kay Gillette
On the first day of Christmas, the hardest thing is adjusting to the changes that each day, week, month and year brings when there is a loved one with dementia in the family. Efforts to keep things normal and traditional may no longer work.
Too many people and too much noise may may your loved one anxiety or agitated or angry or sad. Previous favorite pastimes such as wrapping gifts and making cookies may be too hard or confusing. Traditional church services may be too crowded or disorienting.
Also take into account the the changes and transitions to which this person has had to endure and adapt. Some of the above noted activities may be too stressful or sad or heavy for you to live through as well.
Below are some suggestions that will be welcome most of the time no matter what stage of the disease your loved one is in. Give presents that have comforting textures such as a soft robe or warm slippers. Give a hand or foot rub with a favorite scent. Sometimes it is nice and soothing to have the lotion slightly warm. Play favorite music (doesn’t even have to be Christmas music).
Give edibles such as cookies or candies that are not choking hazards. Share a movie while sitting together and drinking hot chocolate. Hold hands. Brush their hair. Often women like to have a manicure. Some people like pedicures. Spend time brushing their hair. Bring a child to visit. Bring a favorite pet. Read aloud.
Coping with dementia is never easy, and certainly no more so around the holidays. The important thing is to BE PRESENT to them even when they can’t be present to you.