A person with memory loss needs structure, routine and a calm environment. These things are sometimes absent during the holidays. If you have a loved one with memory loss, there are ways to make the holidays enjoyable for everyone. Experts at the University of California, San Diego, offer the following tips:
- If an older family member tires easily or is vulnerable to over-stimulation, limit the activities or length of time that person is included in the festivities.
- Consider planning a nap time or providing a "quiet room" where an older person can take a break from the noise and confusion.
- If there's a get-together at the home of someone with memory impairment or behavioral problems, don't rearrange the furniture. This could cause confusion and anxiety.
- If the family function is somewhere else, remove slippery throw rugs and other items that could be hazards or barriers to people who have difficulty walking.
- Avoid comments that might embarrass someone with short-term memory problems.
- Involve everyone in holiday meal preparation, assigning tasks to include the youngest and oldest family members.
- Make sure that older people adhere to their regular schedule of medications during the holiday hustle and bustle.
- Reach out to older relatives and friends who are alone. Loneliness in older people is associated with major depression and with suicidal thoughts and impulses.
If you have a loved one with memory loss, it may be beneficial to consult a Geriatric Care Manager to assist in developing a plan for the holidays. This preventative plan can help keep the holidays from becoming more stressful for everyone, especially the person with memory loss.