Preparing to have a Happy Thanksgiving when dementia is in the picture just requires a little more planning. It is not easy to deal with a family member suffering from a mental health condition like dementia. Over time, you may learn how to communicate with them more optimally.
If you do not see your grandparent enough to keep track of how much their illness has progressed, it may be difficult to cope. They may hardly remember you and find it difficult to make associations with people and events.
However, it is possible for you to ensure that your yearly thanksgiving dinner has an overall positive vibe. If you keep some of these tips in mind when dealing with someone with dementia, the family holiday may be more pleasant.
Let’s explore 12 tips to have a happy thanksgiving with dementia.
Tip #1 – Let Your Guests Know About Your Parent’s/Grandparent’s Condition
Dementia progresses slowly, and it may not be obvious for family and friends to notice a significant decline in cognitive function. This is because it is pretty normal to associate symptoms of memory loss with aging.
However, if your grandparent has progressed to later stages of the condition, you may wish to let your guests know about it. This is because it may catch them off guard and create feelings of awkwardness that can be prevented.
Tip #2 – Give Details
Inviting guests for a thanksgiving dinner means they are close to the family.
This means you should inform them of any advances in the disease’s progression to keep them in the loop.
You may want to inform them of your needs, daily routine, and limitations.
Maintaining honesty is ideal and creates feelings of trust, allowing everyone to bond over dinner.
Tip #3 – Look After Yourself to Have a Happy Thanksgiving with Dementia
If you’ve been struggling as the caretaker and adopted a lot of responsibility, you don’t have to invite many guests.
Keeping your own needs in mind is important because it ensures you can better look after your grandparent.
Taking some pressure off yourself may be useful if it helps you feel less anxious and stressed out.
Smaller gatherings may be preferable if you cannot deal with the hassle of a large family Thanksgiving dinner.
Tip #4 – Change The Timing
Thanksgiving dinner may be served in the early evening to avoid any nighttime symptoms from flaring up.
People with dementia may get tired quickly or exhibit certain behaviors at night, which may be something to consider.
Triggers can be complex and create awkwardness at the dinner table, making it important for you to provide optimal lighting.
Tip #5 – Help Your Parent Prepare For The Event
You can take steps to ensure that your parent remembers everyone at the dinner by showing them pictures in advance.
Reminding your parent of the guests’ relationship with them may be useful, making it possible for them to remember.
Your loved one with dementia might feel less flustered if you’ve taken the time to prepare them before the dinner.
Tip #6 – Create Nostalgia
You may want to spend time with your loved one to reminisce about the past and stir up some memories.
Looking at picture albums and sharing stories about the past may be a fun activity that helps them remember important details.
Playing nostalgic music may create a happy response in your grandparent, allowing them to enjoy the day.
Suppressed memories are likely to come up due to these activities, making the thanksgiving dinner more enjoyable for everyone.
Tip #7 – Include Your Parent/Grandparent in Thanksgiving Activities
You may choose to let them help with dinner or set the table, creating feelings of involvement at thanksgiving. Being included will create a Happy Thanksgiving with dementia for all family members.
Pleasurable participation in setting up the decorations and anticipating the future may be just what they need to feel at ease.
Tip #8 – Create a Safe Space
It’s important to create a safe and silent space for your family member if there will be lots of stimulation. Creating this space will ensure you have a Happy Thanksgiving with dementia in the picture.
You can let them sit by themselves or give them company while they relax in another room and listen to music.
Too many people in a room can create confusion, making your family member feel uneasy, which is something to consider.
Tip #9 – Stick to a Routine to have a Happy Thanksgiving with Dementia
You may wish to stick to your loved one’s regular routine on that day so they feel less confused and stressed.
It is also helpful to plan multiple breaks where they can retreat to another room and recover from overstimulation.
Tip #10 – Give Yourself Time Off Afterwards
You may wish to unwind after the day’s activities are completed since you are likely exhausted.
Pat yourself on the back and allow yourself to decompress so you can enjoy your free time.
If you do not reward yourself for your small wins, you will likely get burnt out quickly.
Tip #11 – Help Your Loved One Reflect on The Day
Self-reflection can become an excellent tool to create new habits that help your loved one think about the day.
They are more likely to remember things if they spend 5-10 minutes each night thinking about the day’s activities.
Tip #12 – Be Kind to Yourself
Looking after someone with dementia can be draining and create high standards where you constantly feel guilty for not doing more.
However, you should remember that you are trying your best and ask for help when you can.
Speak to yourself with less judgment and speak to a therapist if you need assistance.
A happy thanksgiving dinner is possible even if your loved one has dementia if you prepare adequately.
Keeping these tips in mind, you will enjoy your holiday more by preparing optimally and making the necessary sacrifices.
Don’t forget to look after your own needs after going through a full day of caretaking.
We Are Here To Help
At Sycamore Creek Ranch Memory Care we are here to help. We want families to make the best decision for their situation
Furthermore, the staff at Sycamore Creek Ranch is proactive. That means we are not waiting for a problem to arise. Instead, we are actively engaged with each and every resident. And with only 16 residents we can do that!
If you are looking for Memory Care in The Woodlands or Memory Care in Spring, Texas come for a tour at Sycamore Creek Ranch! See how we can help