6 Tips for Holidays with Older Adults!

1. Host small groups to prevent older adults from becoming overstimulated.

Daily Caring mentions that overstimulation is an issue for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Instead of hosting a large gathering, host a few small gatherings throughout the holiday season. This is to keep older adults feel at ease. If hosting multiple groups is not possible, limit the group to immediate family.

2. Plan activities around the time of day that works for them.

Consider the hours that they are at their best and schedule around that. If they wake up in the afternoon, plan the activity for the early evening. It is best to plan around their usual schedule, to avoid hours where they are typically feeling agitated or tired.

3. Encourage one-on-one visits by keeping a calm and private space.

If there is going to be a large holiday event, allow them a quiet space that is away from other guests. This will keep overstimulation and agitation from occurring as easily. Allocate times for guests to take turns and spend time with them in their space.

4. Consider activities they enjoy.

Planning activities they already enjoy will make them feel included. If mom enjoys baking, organize a group to decorate cookies. If dad enjoys sports, have the group watch a game together. Older adults with dementia typically enjoy music, so listening and dancing to music they enjoy can be an activity too.

5. Avoid foods that are different from their diet.

Although it is the holidays, their digestive systems are not used to rich foods, alcohol, or sugar. Keeping food relatively close to what they eat will ensure they are able to feel good the next day. Sugar and alcohol will likely make them behave in unusual or unsafe ways. Try to avoid that from happening and avoid foods that are out of their usual diet.

6. Assist children when visiting with older adults.

Having a discussion with children about dementia and Alzheimer’s is important to helping children understand the disease. Teach children that outbursts or certain behaviors is not their fault, but that it may happen. Have an adult with children while visiting; in case something unexpected occurs.

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