Having a loved one with dementia to stay for Christmas
Christmas is an important social occasion, but they can be stressful for people with dementia, their carers and family. It is important that people with dementia are able to celebrate with the family and that they shouldn’t be excluded. Here are a few tips on how to make the stay less stressful for your loved ones and to help everyone enjoy the occasion and feel relaxed. We understand Dementia care and we know that everyone wants to enjoy the festive season.
• Plan for the visit – Get advice from the person that normally cares for them. This could be another family member, friend or even their home care worker. They will be the one that knows them the best and will be able to give you tips to help you plan for the visit. At My Care at Home we encourage the sharing of information with family members to ensure a continuity of care for our clients with their Dementia Care.
o Think about the layout of the house. Would it help to labels doors so that the family member knows which room is which?
o Think about any equipment that is needed and plan to make sure that it is in place in time for the arrival of the family member. If there is any moving and handling equipment that is needed speak to the care company about how to use it. At My Care at Home we are happy to show family members how to use equipment to ensure the safety of our clients.
• Getting help if needed – Ask for help from family or friends or ask a local care company if they will be able to do some adhoc care. At My Care at Home we provide short term care to help with situations just like this.
• Safety and security – Make sure that you look around the house looking for anything that could be a potential hazard for the family member
o If your loved one is likely to get up at night, leave a light on in the hall when you go to bed and offer them a night-light for their bedroom.
o Make sure there is a light on in the bathroom or toilet so they can find their way at night.
o Leave the toilet door open when it is not in use, to help the person identify where it is.
o Remove rugs that a person could trip on, and remove clutter or objects lying on the floor. Make sure that nothing is ever left on the stairs.
o Lock away any medicines and dangerous substances, such as bleach or paint.
o If your loved one no longer seems to recognise risk, make sure that potentially dangerous items, such as sharp knives, are removed from the kitchen.
• Noise – The house may become quite noisy and busy during Christmas, or over the entire festive period, this can make it easy for a loved one to leave the house unnoticed.
o Talk to other members of your family and decide on a plan of action, keep doors leading onto busy roads closed or locked.
o Plan times when you will go outside or for a walk
o Remember to keep spare keys in a safe place. Check the house in the evening to make sure that doors leading to the outside are locked and that windows have not been left open.
• Food and mealtimes – food is a large part of Christmas festivities if your loved one has lost their appetite or has difficulties eating this can cause concerns.
o Try to avoid patterned table cloths as this can cause confusion. This is such a simple thing and small things like this can help a lot with Dementia care.
o Think about the size of the meal you serve. An over full plate can cause worry. Don’t worry if they haven’t eaten everything
o Let you loved one take their time don’t hurry the meal time. If there are children around the table plan activities that will keep them busy while your loved one finishes their meal without feeling rushed.
Be prepared for changes in the person’s behaviour with so much going on it can make them feeling anxious or nervous. Think about how they might be feeling. With a bit of planning and preparation it should help to make the Christmas celebrations go smoothly with everyone having lovely time.
Merry Christmas from everyone at My Care at Home!