Here are some simple, useful tips to help you make the most of the festive period when you are caring for someone living with dementia.
By 2025 there will be over 1 million people living with dementia in the UK. The condition can be challenging at any time of the year, but at Christmas even more so as emotions are heightened and the day to day routines likely to change.
If you are caring for someone with dementia and find the prospect of Christmas difficult to deal with, here are a few things that can help you approach the festivities in a festive spirit without getting overwhelmed.
Try To Get Involved When You Can
Christmas doesn't have to mean people remain separate from all the activities going on just because they have dementia.Putting up a few decorations and writing some Christmas cards can be great ways to get involved without being in stressful situations or environments. Or why not try making some decorations and Christmas cards – there are plenty of festive craft products at this time of year to use for a fun activity.
Slowly Introduce Christmas
Routine is important for people with dementia, so it might be a challenge putting up all your decorations or writing all your cards in one go. Instead, try slowly putting the tree and the decorations up so you can gently get used to them without a major change to the home environment. Or try a small, ready-decorated table-top tree that won't take up too much room.
Do Avoid The Christmas Crowds
Christmas shopping is stressful for even the most calm, level-headed person. One major part of the stress is the crowds and the loud shops with lots of people in them and usually loud music playing. You can avoid this by doing shopping online so you don't have to brace yourself for the shops. If you are an older family care-giver and not proficient online then why not ask a younger family member to help you, and the person you care for, with some online shopping tips. That can be a great way to involve younger people in your festivities.
Alternatively get help at this stressful time of year by having homecare services where a professional carer can come to your home and help out with caring for your loved one. You can find out more about home care and live-in care from the non-profit group The Live-in Care Hub.
Memories you can enjoy with friends and family will help Christmas be an enjoyable time. Hunt out a favourite song, a film or old photos - enjoying memories from the past is a really lovely way to enjoy Christmas for people living with dementia.
Don't Expect Too Much
Remember you don't need to do too much just because it's Christmas if all it does iscreate additional stress – it should be a joyous time after all. Health and wellbeing are more important than anything else and people should feel safe and happy not stressed and frightened. Many people with dementia find a change in routine at Christmas stressful and the crowds and noise can be scary. So keep to routines and limit the amount of social activities if the situation becomes overwhelming.