The holidays are meant to be a magical time filled with family and gatherings, but things can get complicated when you have a loved one dealing with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or memory loss. While holiday gatherings and activities may be different from those in the past, with a little planning they can be just as fun and memorable. Here are several great tips that can take some of the stress out of hosting a holiday party with your elder in attendance.
Party Location is a BIG Deal
Many senior citizens, especial those with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or memory loss do best when they are in their home environment. Being in an unfamiliar place can lead to instant anxiety or a complete meltdown. To reduce your loved one’s stress, have your holiday gathering(s) in the home your elder resides in.
Choose Your Elder’s Best Time
Plan your event at your elder’s best time. What time of day are they at their best? If your loved one does better in the mornings, consider having a holiday brunch instead of a late night dinner party.
Keep Gatherings Small or One-On-One
Having many people in the home instantly increases noise, and can be confusing for your elder. Consider limiting the number of people you invite, hosting several smaller gatherings instead of one giant family gathering, or even inviting people over one-on-one to celebrate with your elder.
Make a Photo Board and Prep Your Loved One
If your elder has trouble remembering family and friends, make them a photo board. Use a piece of cardboard and glue photos of those who will be visiting. Beside each photo, write the name of the person in big easy-to-read letters. Hang the photo board in a location where your elder will see it often. A week or two before the big event, start looking at the photos daily with your loved one and talking about the upcoming gathering.
Prepare Guests BEFORE the Event
If it has been a while since guests have visited with your loved one, prepare them ahead of time about memory issues or physical limitations they may not be aware of, just so that everyone is prepared and on the same page.
Have a Quiet Place for Senior Downtime
One of the most important areas of the home to prep for the party will be a quiet space for your senior. If the event becomes too much, or the party gets too loud, have a calming space for your senior to relax. You might have soothing music ready in the CD player and some calming repetitive tasks ready to go.
Gifts for Your Loved One
It can be hard to choose a gift for someone else, especially for those who have memory problems or physical limitations. If your family and friends want to give your elder a gift, offer suggestions to help make their shopping easier. Consider making a wish list with your elder of things that they want or need. Some items that you can never have enough of are non-slip socks, your elder’s favorite snacks or sugar free treats, and comfortable clothing in your elder’s size.
Do you have any tips for throwing a party with someone who has dementia, Alzheimer’s, or memory loss? Do you have any GREAT gift ideas for older loved ones dealing with these disorders? If so, leave a comment! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter too!