With the way things are progressing with the pandemic, it looks as if Thanksgiving may all but canceled. As the holidays approach, many people are wondering how they are going to celebrate, if at all. And put together Thanksgiving with COVID, and dementia and this year will be a huge challenge for families.
There are still heavy restrictions on social gatherings, wearing masks, and helping to stop the spread of the virus. With many families, the holidays are one of the few times they can all get together.
For someone living with memory loss, they may be struggling with the upcoming holiday. They will recognize the change in the weather, the ads on TV, and decorations.
Due to the dangers of their susceptibility to the virus, it may be hard to explain to them the scaled back or lack of Thanksgiving. It can be difficult to include those with memory loss if they won’t wear a mask. And big family gatherings may not happen for many. Thanksgiving with COVID do not go hand in hand.
Thanksgiving With COVID-19 and Memory Loss
There is evidence that people in isolation can get depressed, which can lead to dementia. There is also evidence that the virus has a direct effect on neurological symptoms.
These include loss of smell, delirium, and even an increased risk of stroke. There also appears to be other effects on the brain that may last a long time, if not be permanent.
Our immune systems work with our brains to protect the body. The longer an illness lasts, the more severe the effect on the brain. It changes the behavior of the brain. The longer the illness, the more chance there is for permanent damage.
Many symptoms of COVID are symptoms that announce memory loss or dementia. People who may be seeing signs of memory loss may miss the signs of COVID, as there are many similarities.
Thanksgiving With COVID and Memory Loss
If you are celebrating Thanksgiving with someone who lives with memory loss, there are ways to still make it special. Isolation makes it much more difficult for people with dementia.
Always Look For The Blessings
There may a small blessing in not being able to have large gatherings this year. These can often be triggers for people with dementia. Keep the gathering small and intimate, so they are not overwhelmed.
It’s important that everyone is tested before they come in contact with each other. Older people and people with dementia can be much more susceptible. If they are living in a memory care home, it’s better to go to them, rather than upset their routine. Of course, you will have to follow the rules your state and your home has set up.
Make familiar dishes that they enjoy and may bring back pleasant memories. Perhaps a signature dish that they used to make. If there are particular dishes they used to have, bring those to use. Bring out the familiar and Thanksgiving with COVID will seem less daunting.
Talk about old times and fond memories. Leave out mention of politics or anything else that is an emotionally charged topic. The goal for this Thanksgiving with COVID is to keep the mood light and relaxed. Bring photo albums and talk about the people and locations in them.
Focus on The Parts of Thanksgiving They Enjoyed Most
Avoid a lot of noise and too many people talking at once. Use your best discretion about taking the younger kids. They may be a pleasant addition. But they could be stressful.
Keep an eye on their mood and how they seem to be feeling. If they seem tired, make sure they have a quiet place to rest. Try not to take up too much of their day.
You may want to consider a virtual Thanksgiving for many of the family. For those out of town, it’s likely best not to overwhelm your loved one with memory loss.
You can let them say hello via the phone or laptop. Depending on if they recognize anyone, it can be difficult for the whole family.
If they live in a care facility, there will be restrictions there for COVID. Be sure to check with them before you arrive. Plan ahead. Your memory care home may have to schedule family visits one at a time. Know what the rules are and schedule your time as early as you can. You can make some traditional food and have it delivered if you are not allowed to visit.
It’s difficult for many people during the holidays and even with a pandemic, people will make bad decisions. Your first priority is to keep your loved one safe and healthy.
Check with your local guidelines regarding social gatherings and attending parties or events. It’s best to keep it close, with the people already in your home. Don’t attend large parties, parades, or sporting events.
As carers, you need to give yourselves a break, as well. Many are overworked and trying to get by with longer hours and short supplies. That doesn’t help anyone, especially, them.
It seems unfair that we have to make adjustments to our lives. The truth is, we just have to. We all want to get back to ‘normal’, but that won’t happen until we smash COVID. We won’t smash COVID until we obey the rules.
You want to protect your loved ones from catching the virus. As difficult as it is now, we can do what we can to make sure next year is better. Take as many precautions as you can to keep your family safe.
Memory care homes have trained and experienced staff to take care of all their needs. Get the peace of mind for the entire family when you trust your loved one to a memory care home.
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! Come for a tour at Sycamore Creek Ranch! See how we can help!