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Help Those with Alzheimer’s or Dementia Feel Loved and Included During the Holiday Season

For many people, the holidays are the happiest time of year. However, it can be a sad and confusing time for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Whether your loved one is living at a memory care or assisted living facility, or you’re providing in home care, there are a number of activities to brighten the season for everyone, and to help boost the cognitive function and ease dementia symptoms of your loved one.

Listen to Holiday Music

Music is a great form of therapy for seniors living with cognitive impairment. For many, music is closely linked to memories and emotions. Seniors who have trouble remembering what they did earlier in the day may still remember all the words to their favorite holiday songs.

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Watch a Classic Holiday Movie

Like music, holiday movies can bring back fond memories. Seniors living with memory loss may enjoy getting together with family members or friends to watch a favorite holiday classic. Watching a movie in a quiet room offers a nice respite when holiday activities become too overwhelming.

Do Holiday Crafts

Creativity can be very therapeutic for people with memory issues. Creativity improves cognitive function and can help them get in touch with their inner selves and better communicate their feelings. Consider making: ornaments, a wreath, painting a Menorah, decorating the tree, or addressing holiday cards. But, keep it simple to avoid frustration.

Enjoy a Favorite Holiday Treat

Whether it’s a pie, main course or cookies, seniors with memory issues may enjoy the nostalgia of helping to make, decorate or serve a favorite holiday food. Just be sure your loved one is well supervised and totally safe in the kitchen.

Reminisce About Past Holidays

In their early stages, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive decline tend to cause mostly short-term memory loss. A person with cognitive decline might be able to remember past holidays clearly, even if they struggle to remember recent events. Reminiscing about years gone by can be a great way to help a senior relive happy memories and get into the holiday spirit. Using props like photo albums and old holiday cards and decorations can be very helpful in stimulating memories.

Deck the Halls

Decorating a house or room is a good way to create a feeling of holiday cheer, and is a great way to display all those handmade holiday crafts. But, for seniors with dementia it’s important to take a few extra safety precautions. Use unbreakable ornaments, use lights that don’t blink or flash, keep the floor clear and uncluttered and don’t use real candles.

Take a Field Trip

Many seniors with dementia will enjoy taking a ride or stroll with a family member or home caregiver to admire holiday decorations. For seniors who aren’t prone to getting overwhelmed, window-shopping at the mall or attending a holiday concert can also be a fun way to get out of the house.

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