By Melissa Chambers, Regional Director of Educational Services at Grane Hospice and InGraned Education.
Happy holidays! This time of year is great, we all have so many things to be thankful for, especially spending time with our loved ones. However, the holidays can also be extremely hectic for all of us. Think about the anxiety that we sometimes go through to cook a beautiful meal for our loved ones, trying to make everything just perfect, and try to get everyone in the same place at the same time. Our loved ones with dementia have a lot of changes going on in their brain and they can feel this as well. There are things we can do to make things less stressful for them. Be mindful of our table settings. Many of us like to make the dinner table beautiful with nice plates, silverware, glassware, napkins, etc. but busy tables are not the best for them. The less clutter the better. Additionally, when thinking about table settings, try to avoid a lot of white. If you have a white tablecloth or place mat and a white plate and a white napkin, this can be hard for them to differentiate or maybe even tell that there’s a plate there at all because of the changes with their vision. Bright primary colors are best for them (red, blue, yellow or green). We have to try to adjust our expectations of what the holidays look like and temporarily change or shift our traditions, and this can be hard. Even though we want our loved ones at our homes with us like usual, it may be too much stimulation for them. Maybe go to them for a little where they are in their familiar environment and there isn’t a bunch of commotion and noise, and kids running around and all the other stimulation that the holidays can bring. Something else we want to do is make family members aware of the changes our loved one with dementia is going through so they aren’t taken off guard and can adjust as well. This certainly isn’t a complete list but hopefully it’s helpful. If anyone has any specific questions please don’t hesitate to ask. Happy Thanksgiving!