For most, Christmas Day gatherings are happy, heartwarming occasions. But for those living with dementia, that’s often not the case.
“Christmas is a great social occasion but can be overwhelming for a person living with dementia,” said Juliet Kelly of Hammond Care’s Dementia Centre.
“Noise, busyness and lots of conversation can all be stressful and these can be in abundance at Christmas time.”
With more than 250,000 people with the condition living in the community, that stress will touch many Australian households this festive season.
Here are some tips for helping your loved one celebrate in comfort.
- Get out photo albums to help the conversation along. People with dementia can sometimes find participating in conversation more challenging. Getting out photo albums, home videos and memorabilia, not uncommon at Christmas or New Year, is a great way of helping people with dementia get involved in the conversation and helps their general well-being.
- If conversation is too hard, use music. Music is a great way for people to connect. Particularly music from their Christmas past, which will help a person living with dementia connect and join in the conversation.
- Make sure there is a quiet room or space in the house where the person living with dementia can get away for a rest.
- Start the Christmas meal with something familiar (grace, a toast). Try to include contrasting colours for food and crockery, smaller portions sizes and finger food are good options for meal ideas, with something soft and easy to chew.
- Make sure there is good lighting and that the noise in the room is not too loud.
- Offer the primary carer some respite. The Christmas meal is the perfect time to say to the primary carer: “I will sit with the person with dementia and you enjoy your meal".
These tips come courtesy of Hammond Care. For more information visit hammond.com.au.