The holiday season is a time for togetherness, joy, and creating cherished memories. For families with loved ones living with Alzheimer's, these moments hold even more significance. While the disease may pose challenges, it also presents opportunities to connect on a deeper level and create meaningful experiences. Here are a few ways to bond with a senior with Alzheimer's during the holidays:
1. Engage in Reminiscence Therapy - Reminiscence therapy involves sharing memories and experiences from the past. Look at old photo albums, listen to music from their favorite era, or reminisce about shared experiences. This can help to spark joy, validate their experiences, and strengthen your bond. Connect this to the present time by looking at old Christmas pictures, listening to past Christmas music or looking at old home videos of Christmas.
2. Participate in Holiday Activities - Together Involve your loved one in holiday preparations, such as decorating the tree, baking cookies, or wrapping gifts. Even simple tasks can provide a sense of purpose and engagement. Adapt activities to their abilities and preferences, and offer assistance when needed.
3. Enjoy Sensory Experiences - Sensory experiences can be particularly calming and enjoyable for people with Alzheimer's. Sensory experiences that can bring your loved one into the holiday are:
- Take a drive and view Christmas lights from inside the car
- Create a holiday wreath featuring different textures
- Diffuse holiday essential oils like cedar, cinnamon and clove
- Gift them a soft or weighted blanket to keep them warm
4. Create New Traditions & Adapt Old Ones - Adapt old traditions so that you and your loved one can still enjoy them. If your loved one always cooked or baked during the holidays, prep the ingredients or food beforehand so they can add the finishing touches to it. If you’ve always put up and decorated the tree together, you can assemble the tree and have your loved one add the topper at the end. You can also establish new holiday traditions that work well for your loved one. Doing a half day of Christmas may be easier than a whole day of celebrating. Or ordering dinner out versus cooking at home can help with the workload of care giving.
5. Practice Patience and Understanding - Communicating with someone with Alzheimer's can be challenging. Be patient, understanding, and use simple language. Break down tasks into smaller steps, and repeat instructions as needed. Focus on the process rather than the outcome. Most importantly, cherish the moments you share and express your love and appreciation.
The holidays are a time for connection and compassion, and even with the challenges of Alzheimer's, there are still countless ways to create meaningful moments with your loved one. The team at Carefield Pleasanton is always available to answer your questions about memory care for your loved one, and the benefits of a community. Contact us by calling or filling out the form below to take a tour.