The holiday season can be a stressful time of year for seniors who have dementia. Changing schedules, visitors, decorations, and the usual hustle and bustle can exacerbate symptoms and trigger feelings of anxiety, confusion, and depression. Seniors who have dementia can often feel fearful and confused about their surroundings on a daily basis, so it is understandable that the liveliness of the holidays can be extra taxing.
Dementia refers to diseases and illnesses that involve cognitive impairment and a decline in memory. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease, which accounts for approximately 60%-80% of cases. The second most common is vascular dementia, which occurs due to blood vessel blockage and microscopic bleeding in the brain. The symptoms of dementia include memory loss, mood swings, a decline in cognitive function that affects mobility and motor skills, speech impairment, confusion, depression, anxiety, and other challenging conditions.
While there is a risk of seniors who have dementia being affected in a negative way by the holidays, in-home caregivers can work holiday traditions into their dementia care plans and help make this a joyful time of year.
3 Holiday Traditions that Help with Dementia Symptoms
The smell of cookies baking in the oven, the sound of Christmas music playing in the background, and the sight of friendly faces all do their part in sparking holiday cheer. Certain traditions can also help calm seniors who have dementia and even improve some of their symptoms. In-home caregivers can make use of these dementia care tips below while celebrating some holiday cheer.
1. Listening to Holiday Music
Studies have shown a correlation between listening to music and a decrease in dementia symptoms. Familiar music can produce a calming effect, even if the senior doesn’t remember the song. Music can also be used to help recall fond memories and important life events. Like a lullaby soothing a child to sleep, holiday music can have a similarly peaceful effect on seniors who have dementia. For seniors who are in a late stage of dementia, listening to music may be one of the few activities in which they can partake, as many seniors become bed ridden at this stage. If this is the case, then music is a way for in-home caregivers to bring a bit of the holidays to the seniors in their care.
2. Making Ornaments
Crafting ornaments is a great way to enjoy a holiday activity while improving cognitive functions. There are many types of crafts to choose from and each come with their own set of health and wellness benefits. However, health conditions such as arthritis can impair a senior’s ability to make crafts, which is why the support of a in-home caregiver can be helpful. Benefits of making ornaments and crafts include stress reduction, strengthened immune system, decreased depression, improved memory, and improved motor skills, among others.
3. Baking Cookies
Like making ornaments and crafts, baking cookies is a hands-on activity that improves motor skills and memory function. With the help of an in-home caregiver, seniors with dementia can participate no matter what stage of dementia they are in. Participation can range from assisting with each step or simply watching and enjoying the aroma as the cookies bake. If there is no conflict with dietary restrictions, seniors (and in-home caregivers!) can enjoy eating the cookies afterwards, too. Cookies also make nice presents for friends and family and can be an easy way for seniors to give a homemade gift to loved ones.
In-Home Caregivers for the Holidays
The benefits of in-home caregivers last all year round, but are especially useful during the busyness of the holidays. Professional in-home caregivers are trained to manage the various stages of dementia and will know how to best navigate any changes in a senior’s situation. In-home caregivers help in a variety of ways. They perform daily tasks such as running errands, they complete household chores, and they perform intimate tasks such as personal hygiene. They are also responsible for monitoring, managing, and trying to improve upon the health and well-being of their clients.
If you are interested in in-home care services, please contact Alegre Home Care. We have been serving seniors and people with disabilities for over 25 years. Give us a call at one of our Northern California locations.