If you are planning a holiday with dementia in the picture get ready. Thanksgiving is just the start. The official Holiday season will keep going until the start of the New Year. Families will be arriving to visit and reminisce. It is a time of togetherness. And sometimes a challenging time as well. Let’s face it, most of our families would probably not make it into a Norman Rockwell painting. LOL!
Let Go of Expectations and Fears About a Holiday With Dementia
You know that Aunt Julie and Uncle Fred are always late so don’t expect today to be any different. Either tell them to arrive 30 to 45 minutes earlier than you want them to arrive or just start without them. Likewise, do not sit two relatives next to each other that you know do not get along. Or two that have very different pollical beliefs. That is just asking for trouble. Remember when mom used to sit between you and your brother to keep things calm. Just because we have grown up doesn’t mean that everybody is going to be on their best behavior.
Chances are, you will forget to do something.
Perhaps the turkey will be a little on the dry side or the souffle will fall. But no one will remember any of this. What they will remember is how you reacted. And if you don’t make a big deal out of it, nobody else will either. After all, Thanksgiving is about family and connecting with those you care about. Furthermore, the turkey and sides are just what the people of Louisiana call “lagniappe”
Surrounding mom with people who are happy, smiling and relaxed will help her to be relaxed and happy too. A holiday with dementia does not mean it will be a disaster.
But how will you manage?
Sibling rivalry often rears its ugly head at the family get-togethers. Not everyone sees eye to eye. And now in the US, there is such a divide with politics that can’t help but slide over to the dinner table conversation. And guess what? Not everyone at the table will agree either.
It is important that you have help.
Assign different family members to different tasks. Or even consider hiring someone to help. You can even bring in a caregiver who Mom is comfortable with to make sure all of her needs are taken care of. That will allow you to focus on others. It will also help mom to feel safe and comfortable. And this holiday with dementia will be just fine.
Too Many People- Chaos and Dementia
I get that you can’t “not” invite a family member. That would be rude. However, a lot of people at one time can be overwhelming for someone with dementia.
As challenging as this can be for all of us, can you imagine what it will do to someone with dementia? Their world has already been turned upside down. And bringing more chaos into the home is just plain unacceptable.
If you are the primary caregiver for Mom, you need to set your foot down. I am talking about setting boundaries.
It may be normal for your family to have heated discussions at the dinner table. But someone with dementia may not understand what is being said.
What they do understand are the tones and facial expressions. And this could be pretty frightening. Imagine listening to a very heated political discussion. But imagine that it is in a language that you do not understand. What do you see? Also, what do you feel? And what do you hear? Pretty scary, right?
So, to accommodate mom you need to have boundaries on table discussions. And setting Boundaries is not always easy. But it is necessary both for you and for the one you care for. After all, you are Mom’s advocate. She may not be able to stand up for her needs. She is counting on your help.
You may suggest having a table set up away from some of the more vocal family members. Put mom and a few friendly faces at this table. Make sure you or someone Mom is comfortable with is with her at all times.
Set up A Retreat Room
A quiet room where Mom and one or 2 family members can retreat too is a good idea. Additionally, have music that mom likes. Also, add some aromatherapy and anything else you can think of that would be familiar and comforting to her. An old photo book that she and others can reminisce with would be an added bonus.
Lastly, Take a Deep Breath, Say a Prayer and Know That Everything Will Be Fine
Your attitude will make all of the difference in the world. Someone with dementia will take their social and emotional cues from the ones they trust. If you are happy and having a good time there is a good chance that Mom will be also.
Consider bringing a family member for a tour of Sycamore Creek Ranch while they are visiting. Your sibling who lives far away may want to look at what options are available as mom needs more care. Call us today (832) 791-1577