The holidays are an amazing time in many ways but they can also be exceptionally challenging. After all, the holidays often result in considerable financial strain, while including more social expectations and a range of other stressors. At the same time, holidays often bring out the best and the worst emotions and can be draining as a result.
All of these issues are true for most people in this season. However, anybody caring for a senior with dementia can face additional challenges.
So, how do you deal with them?
Certainly, many of the stresses of the holiday season aren’t avoidable entirely, especially if you have family in the area. Despite that, there are some tips that you can follow that can make the process easier.
Avoid Noise and Crowds
Holidays are often a time to get friends and family together, frequently in big groups. But, for patients with dementia, doing so can be counterproductive.
This type of environment will often confuse them or frustrate them. At the same time, large groups of people can wear seniors down, especially if they don’t have much social contact during the year.
Finding ways to decrease crowds and noise can majorly help.
One way to do this may be to have multiple small gatherings and to space them out. Likewise, low-key events can be easier for everyone to manage.
For that matter, smaller and simpler events are likely to be less stressful for the caregiver as well.
Say ‘No’ When You Need To
The holidays come with a surprising amount of expectation.
This is supposed to be a time of relaxation and of family. Yet, you’ll often find that you are expected to host parties are your place or go to every event that is being held.
You may even have family or friends that simply assume you will do something, perhaps because you have other years.
Whatever the situation, don’t be afraid to say no.
You aren’t obligated to go to every event or to have other people at your place.
For that matter, many of your friends and family won’t realize the challenges you face in caregiving anyway.
Saying no can sometimes be hard but it is critical. Realistically, if you agree to everything, you’ll often find that you end up tired and run down,
As a result, you’re not likely to enjoy the holiday season and you might end up getting frustrated at the person you’re caring for as well.
Manage Food and Sugar Intake
We often view the holidays as a chance to eat more and to pay less attention to calories. However, it’s still important to be aware of what the person you’re caring for is eating.
In particular, too much sugar can cause behavioral problems and alcohol may contribute to a depressed mood.
At the same time, simply eating too much can have health consequences. This is especially true if the senior is suffering from any issues connected to weight or nutrition.
To achieve this, it may be worth figuring out beforehand what is okay and what isn’t. After all, you need to strike a balance between caring for the person and ensuring they still get some treats. Figuring this out as you go isn’t always practical.
Stick to Routines (as much as possible)
Routines play a strong role in caregiving, particularly in the case of dementia patients.
It’s tempting to break away from those routines during the holidays, especially as there are so many different events on. But, sticking to routines tends to be beneficial in the short-term and the long-term.
Plus, doing so can reduce the chance of any behavioral issues.
Prepare Family and Friends
Family and friends often won’t know what to expect with the person you’re caring for, especially if they are from out of town. As such, it’s important to take the time to prepare them, such as talking about how the senior may not remember them.
Likewise, this can be the time to bring up any behavioral issues and anything else that the guests should be aware of.
Additionally, it may be important to talk to family and friends about what not to do.
For example, some family members may tend to feel that the senior can eat or drink whatever they like simply because it is the holidays. In many cases, those people may be unaware of the consequences of doing so or the fact that this could present serious health risks.
As such, taking the time to talk about consequences and your approaches can be critical to ensuring that the holiday season works well for everyone.
One other aspect may be to talk to your family and friends about what gives to give the senior. Often some gifts simply won’t be suitable and many people won’t know this without being told.
Taking the time to talk through these areas beforehand can reduce the chance of any issues and ensure that the holidays go as well as they can.