For those of you who have a parent or other loved one with dementia, the holidays can be stressful as you try to make your festivities as enjoyable and as anxiety free as possible. And, of course, there is always the question of what gifts to give, who should visit and so forth.
This year, of course, the pandemic has changed the rules of engagement. For many families, that means not being able to visit a beloved parent or grandparent. And, yet there are still ways to connect with your loved one that can provide meaning and inspiration to them as well as to your own family.
Here are some ideas to add some joy during this challenging holiday season:
- Share a video call. By now you may have already been conducting family video calls. Try to limit them to only a few family members at a time. Keep them on the short side and be attentive to signs that your loved one is tiring or experiencing anxiety.
- Send memory-enhancing gifts. This might be a small photo album showing images of familiar past events with family members. It might be a tape with their favorite holiday songs. Scrap books put together by other family members can also bring joy and comfort.
- Mail short notes of hope and inspiration. Consider having each family member write out a short note, include a piece of artwork or photograph and pop it in the mail. Try spacing the sending of them apart so that your loved one receives something every day.
If your mom or dad is in a memory care community, take the time to tune into what they are doing to spread cheer during the holidays. Many, such as our Anthem communities, have organized special holiday events. While you may not be there in person to share them, staying on top of the latest activities and celebrations at the community will help enrich your conversation with your loved one. You can even reinforce these events as something they can look forward to.
We’re all hopeful that next year at this time we’ll be celebrating the holidays together in more traditional ways, with family and friends close to us. Truly the pandemic will end and there will be better days ahead.
Until then, focus on making the holidays as special as possible for the loved ones in your life. This is a season of faith. Seize upon ways to keep that faith alive.
(The photograph above features a lovely resident of Chelsea Place Memory Care enjoying last year’s holiday festivities.)