Christmas can be a fun and exciting time but it can also be stressful and exhausting for anyone. For those with dementia those feelings can be exacerbated when Christmas takes them out of their usual routine and involves a lot of overwhelming activities. There are some simple ways adjust your Christmas plans to ensure it’s a positive event for everyone.
In the lead-up to Christmas include your loved one in the preparations with tasks that they enjoy and are able to do – maybe that’s wrapping presents, writing cards or baking. You can also modify your decorations to avoid confusion such as blinking Christmas lights or table pieces designed to look like fruit.
Have a plan on Christmas day. One of the causes of stress for a person with dementia is to depart from their usual routine so ensuring their meal and rest times are the same, can help them remain relaxed. Even if that means your loved one eats a little earlier than other guests or takes a nap or rest break during the day, that’s okay. If they are able to enjoy the gift giving or time spent with grandkids or having dessert with everyone then don’t worry if they need to sit out from other activities.
If your loved one is feeling left out or stressed by conversations like ‘remember that Christmas it was 40 degrees’ or ‘remember the first Christmas after Jenny was born’ try to bring the conversation back to the present and focus on taking photos and enjoying activities in the moment. And finally, if you do have any stressed or aggravated moments try to let them go and focus on the positive environment you have created for your loved one and your family.