How To Approach Senior Dementia During the Holidays
December 8, 2015
If you believe everything that you see in advertisements on television, the holidays are a time of joy and merriment. In real life, however, the holidays can be stained with exhaustion and stress. This time of year can be difficult to navigate, especially if you have a loved one living with dementia.
Dealing with elderly parents who suffer from dementia can add additional layers of stress to the holiday season, both on a personal level and a family level. While it might not be easy to get through this time of year when you are dealing with dementia, it doesn’t have to be impossible. We’ve put together some helpful tips for surviving the holiday season.
1. Stay positive. Going into the holiday feeling anxiety and dread can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, stay positive and visualize yourself and your family enjoying a happy holiday meal together in the days leading up to your get together. It can help set the tone for the entire experience and help to keep you calm when you start to get frustrated about a situation.
2. Practice patience and listening. Both patience and listening are skills that require practice, especially if you are living with elderly parents. The Family Caregiver Alliance recommends that if you see your loved one “struggling for an answer, it’s okay to suggest words. Watch for nonverbal cues and body language, and respond appropriately. Always strive to listen for the meaning and feelings that underlie the words.”
3. Embrace imperfection. It’s easy to build up the “fantasy” version of your family holiday celebrations in your mind, but the reality of our lives doesn’t always align with what we wish would happen. Learn to embrace the imperfection in your life and try to remember that you are not alone—no one’s life is perfect!
4. Cherish your time with them. All of our time is limited so, even when your parents are driving you nuts, try to remember that they won’t be around forever. Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand that this is probably not easy for them, either. Do something special to make them happy for the holidays this year and you might end up making a lifelong, happy memory in the process.
The holidays can be stressful when you love someone who is living with dementia, but they don’t have to be. We have some additional tips on how to manage stress as a Caregiver, just in case.