A season filled with love, quality time, and cherished memory-making; the holidays are an adored celebration for many families. Synonymous with the sight of excited children and grandchildren ready to open their gifts, the sounds of nostalgic music, and the smells of cinnamon and freshly baked gingerbread, it’s a truly special time of year for family members of all ages. For seniors, the holidays are often a particularly cherished time to reconnect with family, enjoy extra socialization, and honor meaningful family traditions.

Dementia and the Holidays

While many seniors with dementia continue to enjoy the holiday spirit, the season often presents some challenges. Diverting from a familiar routine and navigating a season brimming with loud social gatherings, twinkling decorations, and rich food can be difficult.

3 Quick Tips to Help a Senior With Dementia Enjoy the Holidays

1. Provide a quiet space for your relative during social gatherings. Loud social occasions can be overwhelming for seniors with dementia. It may help to provide a safe, quiet space for them to retreat if they need some peace.

2. Educate family members on how to communicate with your loved one. Give visitors some pointers if your parent finds it hard to remember words or follow conversations. For example, does your loved one respond better to simple, short sentences or feel encouraged by active listening body language (e.g., nodding)? Providing simple tips may help your relative with dementia feel included and alleviate some of their anxiety.

3. Simplify the holidays and focus on what truly makes them meaningful. Don’t feel pressured to go over the top during the holidays. Being a family caregiver can feel like a full-time job, and extravagant displays aren’t always needed to make meaningful memories with loved ones. Consider what truly makes the season special for your family, and don’t be afraid to organize something more low-key that everyone can enjoy.

Noticing Changes in a Senior’s Health During the Holidays

People typically have more free time during the holidays. As a result, adult children and other relatives often spend extra hours or days with senior family members. Naturally, this makes the holidays familiar for family caregivers to notice that a relative needs additional memory care support. 

The holidays may also be one of the few times each year when more distant relatives get to see your loved one with dementia. If you’re a family caregiver who sees them daily, you might not notice the effects of gradual changes on their health and abilities. On the contrary, family members who only see them once or twice a year can offer a new perspective and notice differences more clearly.

Signs Your Parent Might Need Additional Support

Changes in Mood and Social Skills

The Alzheimer’s Society highlights that many seniors with dementia struggle with things like facial recognition, remembering words, and carrying a conversation. They might also experience mood changes like apathy, anxiety, or depression. These changes often become more noticeable in the middle stage of Alzheimer’s. The holidays are typically an intensely social time for families, which may highlight any new or developing challenges with communication and mood.

Poor Mobility

Reduced mobility and falls are extremely common in the senior population, with 1 in 4 adults aged 65 and over suffering a fall in the US each year. Fall risk is higher still for seniors with a cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s. This may be due to symptoms like changes in balance, impaired visual perception, confusion, restlessness, or frequent wandering. If you’re seeing more of your loved one over the holidays or traveling to many family events together, you may notice changes in their mobility that aren’t so obvious the rest of the year.

Physical Changes

If your parent or relative has always taken great pride in their physical appearance, a decline in hygiene or self-care could be a clear sign that they need some aid with activities of daily living (ADLs). In seniors with Alzheimer’s, physical changes like weight loss, unkempt hair and nails, or poor personal hygiene could have various causes. Your loved one is simply struggling with the physical aspects of tasks like cooking, grooming, or bathing. Alternatively, it may suggest their disease is causing them to forget to complete these essential daily activities.

Considering Residential Memory Care

The prospect of moving to residential senior care can be daunting, particularly when a person has Alzheimer’s or another neurocognitive condition. However, finding the right memory care community early on could vastly improve your loved one’s quality of life for many years.

Memory Care at Alpine View Lodge

Taking care of a parent, spouse, or loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is never easy, and it’s vital to have a strong support network. Alpine View Lodge is committed to being that support system for both the seniors in our care and their family caregivers.

Alpine View Lodge residents benefit from:

    • A range of activities and social events to suit all personalities, including arts and crafts, pet therapy, and fascinating educational classes.
    • Accessible bedrooms, bathrooms, and communal living areas that support seniors with reduced mobility.
    • Delicious, freshly prepared meals to suit personal dietary needs and preferences.
    • Caregiving experts deliver highly personalized, dignified memory care through every stage of their disease.
    • A small home setting where residents, staff members, and family caregivers unite in a close-knit community.
    • Beautiful, sunny grounds in the foothills of the Cuyamaca Mountains.

With festive events and activities in full flow, the holidays are a wonderful time to visit senior care communities. If you notice your loved one with dementia struggles to cope over the holidays, call us to arrange a personalized tour of Alpine View Lodge. We are always honored to help.