It can be difficult to know what to expect and how best to handle Christmas Day celebrations when caring for a loved one living with dementia. However there are steps you can take to make the festive season an enjoyable experience for all.
Here are 5 handy tips from CEO and Founder of Group Homes Australia, Tamar Krebs, on dementia care over the festive season.
1. Don't try and replicate Christmas of the past - be prepared to approach it differently. Bring food in, or offer to do the cooking. Instead of eating in, head to the beach and use the public BBQ.
2. Try and focus on creating new memories and living in the moment, rather than focussing on how things “used to be”. Celebrate what your parents can do, rather than what they can no longer do.
3. Do not waste time and energy worrying about whether Mum or Dad will be around for next Christmas, but instead enjoy the fact that they are around for this Christmas. Be sure to tell them how much you love them and how happy you are to be spending this Christmas with them.
4. Christmas is a popular time for reminiscing. Looking at old photo albums or mementos is a very powerful tool to help remind that person of who they are, what they were capable of, and what makes them unique, rather than just being a person who is living with a diagnosis of dementia.
5. Not everyone who is living with dementia has family around to help care for them. Suicide rates peak at this time of year as it can be an incredibly lonely and isolating experience if you are not surrounded by friends and family. If you know someone who is living with dementia who will be alone this Christmas, please reach out to them and include them in your celebrations.
For further support, contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.