As we venture into December looking at preparing for Christmas, a little extra planning is needed for people with dementia as changes to routine can make cause even further confusion and irritation and also end up being stressful for everyone. There are ways to help everyone enjoy family celebrations and get-togethers with a little bit of pre-festive organisation.
Talk to family members beforehand about how you can keep the occasion as calm and stress-free as possible.
- Don’t mention the upcoming occasion too often or too far in advance or the person with dementia may get anxious. They may forget what is actually happening and be disturbed by the sense of anticipation and the change of routine.
- Try to maintain the normal daily routine where you can – such as times to get up and go to bed, meal times etc.
- If you have a care package in place to help chat to them about what support and help you will need e.g. personal care in the morning and help in the evening preparing for bedtime maybe.
- Mostly people with dementia enjoy the company of children but they may get tired easily and be upset by too much noise so be alert and divert children where necessary.
- Some people with dementia enjoy the excitement and diversion of family visits but be aware that they may get confused by having too many people around them and by noisy conversation. Have a quiet area or a room aside where they can go for a break and where just one family member can sit quietly with them.
- If you are travelling to see family at Christmas remember that people with dementia may find the layout of the house where you are staying unfamiliar and they may become confused even if you have stayed there often before. Take time to allow them to find their way around and make sure all the family understand how to help.
- Think about the layout in terms of toilets and what help may be needed on the day and plan for this to make it as less stress free as possible.
- Plan ahead if you need a wheelchair taxi book this early as companies get very booked up in the run up to Christmas.
The Essential Carer’s Guide’ is published by Hammersmith Health Books priced at £12.99 in print and £5.99 as an ebook. www.hammersmithbooks.co.uk