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Tennessee State Agency on Aging provides Advice for Caregivers and those living with Dementia during the holidays

Tennessee State GovernmentNashville, TN – This year’s holiday season this year may look a little different for all of us. For individuals living with dementia and their caregivers this season may potentially cause additional stress, confusion, or anxiety.

Holiday Considerations for Individuals with Dementia and Caregivers
Holiday Considerations for Individuals with Dementia and Caregivers

“We encourage everyone to look at adjusting traditional holiday plans to stay safe this year, but recognize individuals with dementia and their caregivers face additional challenges every holiday season. Considering some simple accommodations for those with dementia and their caregivers when holiday planning can ensure an inclusive, safe, and meaningful holiday season for all.” said Sarah Elliott, Tennessee Dementia Services Coordinator with the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability

With simple modifications and adapting traditions, we can create a meaningful, memorable holiday experience for Tennesseans living with dementia and their caregivers within the community.  

Create socially distanced or virtual opportunities to connect with loved ones– Older persons and individuals with chronic conditions are at increased risk for COVID-19 related complications. During this season, consider other ways to connect with family members, like a virtual family reunion, video call caroling, or a phone call. 

Create a safe, enjoyable space- Holiday decorations are often a loved family tradition; however, a few simple adjustments can make these decorations safer. Avoid blinking lights, candles and open flames, decorations that cause clutter or potential tripping hazards, and rearranging furniture in familiar spaces. Leave items that are used frequently in the same place. 

Plan meaningful activities – Holiday traditions can still be meaningful for individuals living with dementia and can provide a reassuring link to the familiar past.  Consider listening to familiar holiday music, looking at old photo albums, watching a favorite holiday movie, or decorating cookies.

Prepare Loved Ones- Even if the person living with dementia does not remember names or relationships, they can still enjoy the company of those around them. Remind loved ones that memory loss is the result of the disease and is not intentional. Suggest ways for guests to listen patiently, such as not criticizing repeated comments, not correcting errors and not interrupting. Stress that the meaningfulness of the time together matters more than what the person remembers.

Prepare the Person with Dementia – Keep the memory-impaired person’s routine as close to normal as possible. Make time for rest and ensure there is a quiet place the person with dementia can return to comfortably in case the guests or activities become overwhelming.

 


 

Take care of yourself- Focus on holiday activities and traditions that are most important to you and your family. Allow family and friends to help with tasks such as cleaning, addressing holiday cards, or shopping for gifts. Be up front with your loved ones about your time constraints and don’t over commit. Find time for holiday activities you like to do. For example, go for a walk in the neighborhood and look at holiday decorations, or bake holiday cookies. Ask a family member or friend to give you a break so that you can enjoy some time without caregiving responsibilities.

For more information on caregiver support or dementia services visit www.tn.gov/aging or contact Sarah Elliott, Tennessee Dementia Services Coordinator at 615.532.7070 or .

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