Keeping Family Gatherings Enjoyable for Loved Ones with Dementia
Family gatherings can be overwhelming for a loved one who has dementia. The tips below can help families keep things simple so that everyone can enjoy time together:
Rather than walking someone who has dementia into a room with many relatives, encourage relatives to engage in one-on-one conversation, or to visit a loved one in smaller groups.
The Silverado clinical team has observed time-and-time again the benefits of treating a person with memory impairment as any adult would expect. For example, many of our residents enjoyed cooking throughout their lives, so we get them involved in the kitchen. This is something you can encourage at home too.
Avoid correcting a person with dementia.
If a loved one with dementia addresses a family member using a different name — for example, the name of a spouse or parent — take it as a compliment, recognizing that you are important to them.
Have conversations based on long-term memory.
People with dementia are more likely to retain long-term memories. Talk about the past or share older photos. We do this every day in our memory care communities as each resident has a memory box filled with nostalgic mementos.
Keep plates of food simple.
We found at Silverado many years ago that people with dementia have a better dining experience when a plate was simplified.
If traveling, maintain routines.
When traveling with a person who has a memory impairment, it is best try to stay overnight in familiar environments, keep existing sleep routines, and avoid too much anticipatory planning to prevent added confusion and stress.