10 Ways to help loved ones living with Dementia during Christmas in Cowbridge

The festive season, while a time of joy and celebration, can present unique challenges for individuals living with dementia and their carers. In Cowbridge, understanding how to support loved ones during this time is crucial. Here are a few ways our team recommends to ensure they enjoy the festive season comfortably and safely.

1. Maintain a Regular Routine

One of the key ways to support a loved one with dementia is by maintaining their regular routine. The Christmas season can disrupt daily schedules, which can be confusing or distressing for someone with dementia. Try to plan Christmas activities that align with their usual routine. For instance, if they are accustomed to a walk in the morning, continue this practice even on Christmas Day. Familiar routines can provide a sense of security and comfort.

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2. Create a Calm and Familiar Environment

The festive season, it’s important to create a calm environment. This might mean toning down flashing Christmas lights or keeping the volume of festive music low. A quiet, peaceful space where they can retreat if things get too busy can be very helpful. This room could be decorated with familiar items that they associate with comfort and safety.

3. Inclusive and Simple Activities

Involving your loved one in Christmas preparations can be beneficial, but it’s essential to choose activities that are within their capability. Simple tasks like placing decorations on the tree or helping to set the table can provide a sense of accomplishment and joy. These activities should be approached with patience and without pressure, allowing them to participate at their own pace.

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4. Be Patient and Flexible with Changes

Dementia can cause mood swings or changes in behaviour. During the festive season, be prepared for potential shifts in your loved one’s mood. If they become agitated or disoriented, it’s important to remain calm and patient. A flexible approach, where plans can be adapted based on their comfort, is essential. Gently guiding them to a quieter area can help reduce stress and anxiety.

5. Attend Local Dementia-Friendly Events

Cowbridge offers several dementia-friendly events that are suitable for individuals with dementia and their families. The Memory Jar Café, organised by Madeline & Colin Phillips, offers a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for social interaction. Held at the United Free Church on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays at 2 pm, it’s a wonderful place for a cup of tea and a chat in a supportive environment. Similarly, the Golden Oldies Cinema provides a delightful opportunity to enjoy classic films in a comfortable setting, complete with an ice cream interval. These events, listed here, are tailored to be inclusive and enjoyable, creating a sense of community and shared experience.

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6. Watch for Any New Signs of Distress or Change

Christmas is also an opportunity to observe any changes in your loved one’s condition. This could be anything from increased confusion to signs of discomfort or anxiety. Keeping a watchful eye on these changes is important, as it can help in adjusting their care plan or seeking professional advice if necessary.

7. Familiar Decorations and Music

Using familiar decorations and music can be particularly comforting for those with dementia. Decorate your home with items that have been part of your family’s traditions for years, as these familiar objects can evoke positive memories and feelings of security. Playing well-loved Christmas carols or songs from their past can also be soothing and provide a connection to pleasant memories.

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8. Simplify Gift-Giving

Gift-giving is a big part of the Christmas tradition, but for someone with dementia, too many presents or overly complex items can be confusing. Consider giving simple, practical gifts that they can use and enjoy easily, such as comfortable clothing, a favourite type of sweet, or a photo album filled with familiar faces.

9. Gentle Reminders and Reassurances

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be disorienting. Offer gentle reminders about the day and activities planned. It’s also important to provide reassurance if they feel confused or overwhelmed. A calm and patient approach can help maintain a peaceful atmosphere.

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10. Use Visual Aids

Visual aids can be helpful, especially for those in the earlier stages of dementia. Simple calendars with marked Christmas events or photo-based schedules can help them understand and anticipate upcoming activities, making the festive season less bewildering.

Local Support and Resources

In addition to the Memory Jar Café and the Golden Oldies Cinema, our team at Home Instead Cowbridge offers tailored support for families caring for loved ones with dementia. Our Care Professionals are trained in dementia care and can provide respite care, allowing family carers to take a well-deserved break during the festive season. To learn more about our services and how to get started, simply give us a call.

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