The holidays can be stressful, and even more so when caring for a loved one who is beginning to experience or is in the throes of memory loss.
However, the holidays can help us relate to our loved ones in new ways – it’s just a matter of planning, preparation and teamwork amongst family members. Here are some helpful tips:
1. Let visitors know what to expect.
Family and friends who gather with you this holiday season need to be aware that things have changed since they last saw your loved one. A phone call prior to your holiday celebration can help with making the holiday event much smoother, creating a positive tone and a welcoming atmosphere.
2. Focus on creating memories in the moment, not reflecting on the past.
During holiday gatherings we tend to reminisce on past memories, which can be confusing and difficult for loved ones experiencing memory loss. Instead, focus on the present with special activities to do as a family like hanging ornaments, preparing food together, or even using a Polaroid camera to take fun pictures as a family. Avoid questions such as “Remember how we used to do this?” or correcting your loved one when he/she gets names or facts wrong. Be supportive, positive and focus on the present.
2. Be inclusive.
Even though your loved one is experiencing memory loss, including them in activities like holiday decorating, simple food preparation like plating, or tidying up the dining area can help them feel the spirit of the holidays. Although you loved one may not be able to participate in the same capacity that he/she used to, you can still involve them in the process. If your Mom always baked pumpkin pie during the holidays, have her cut and serve the pie. If Dad was always in charge of the turkey, have him plate the turkey for everyone.
3. Use this as an opportunity to talk with family members about the future.
Sometimes the holidays are the only time we get to see family members face to face. It’s important to start the conversation with key family members about a plan for you loved one once the holidays end.
Step away from your loved one and check in with other family members on where they stand on getting help. And, if needed, consult an expert on your options for help outside of the family such as the possibility of a memory care community.
Have questions about memory care? The senior living experts at Carefield Pleasanton are always here to help during this holiday season. Give our friendly team members a call at (925) 400-9778.