6 Tips to Make the Holidays Special for Someone with Dementia

12/9/2016
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At Silverado, we have nearly 20 years of dedicated experience in caring for individuals with memory impairments, and in that time we’ve developed numerous best practices that have been adopted industry-wide.

This time of year, we like to share tips for making the holidays enjoyable for a loved with dementia. This advice centers on keeping things simple and enjoying individual moments:

  1. Avoid chaos. Rather than walking someone who has dementia into a room with 10 relatives, encourage relatives to engage in one-on-one conversation, or to visit a loved one in smaller groups.
  2. Embrace normalization. The Silverado clinical team has observed time-and-time again the benefits of treating a memory-impaired person 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.
  3. Avoid correcting a person with dementia. If a loved one with dementia addresses a family member using a different name — say, the name of a spouse or parent — take it as a compliment, recognizing that you are important to them.
  4. 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. 
  5. Keep plates of food simple. We found at Silverado many years ago that people with dementia had a better dining experience when a plate was simplified.
  6. If traveling, maintain routines. Depending on one’s degree of memory loss, you can travel but try to stay in familiar environments, keep existing sleep routines, and avoid too much anticipatory planning to prevent added confusion.
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