How to care for Dementia during Firework Celebrations

Here are Home Instead's tips for enjoying bonfire night and other festivities, while keeping safe and supporting your loved ones with dementia

Fireworks are a common feature of celebrations during significant events such as Bonfire Night, Diwali, and New Year’s Eve. These spectacular displays have become a tradition, but it’s essential to acknowledge that fireworks can be challenging for individuals living with dementia. The loud noises associated with fireworks can lead to confusion, fear, or the triggering of unsettling past memories in those with dementia.

In this guide, we aim to provide you with valuable tips to ensure that individuals living with dementia can enjoy firework celebrations, allowing everyone to have a pleasant and memorable time.

Tips in Supporting Your Loved Ones During Firework Celebrations

  1. Effective Communication and Early Planning:

Begin your preparations by engaging in open and early communication with the person living with dementia regarding the upcoming fireworks event. Take the time to understand their feelings and preferences in relation to the festivities. This proactive approach is crucial for planning an event that accommodates their comfort and addresses any concerns they may have.

  1. Prioritize Comfort and Sensory Well-being:

During the event, it’s important to create an environment that fosters the comfort of the individual with dementia. Excessive activity, loud noises, sudden movements, or an uncomfortable setting can lead to overstimulation, negatively impacting their well-being. To manage this, it’s advisable to have someone on hand who can guide the person inside or to a quieter area, or even escort them back home if the situation becomes overwhelming.

It’s important to note that individuals with dementia may have difficulty regulating their body temperature or recognizing when they feel cold. Encourage them to wear layers of clothing, consume hot beverages, and avoid prolonged exposure to the outdoors. For those who are sensitive to noise, providing ear defenders or earplugs can help dampen the impact of loud sounds, enhancing their overall comfort and sensory experience.

  1. Explore Alternatives

If the person with dementia wants to celebrate but prefers to avoid fireworks events, there are various enjoyable alternatives. Consider using sparklers in a secure outdoor space or watching fireworks displays from a distance or within the comfort of your home, allowing you to relish the visual spectacle without the loud noises or crowds. Additionally, you can opt to watch displays on television or online.

Hosting a bonfire night dinner can also be a delightful way to celebrate the occasion. Preparing favorite foods like jacket potatoes, spring rolls, curries, or hotdogs can evoke joyful memories of fireworks night.

  1. Plan for Peace

In preparation for the fireworks, it’s wise to have a plan in case the person with dementia becomes distressed. If the noise becomes overwhelming, be prepared to relocate to a quieter location. A serene indoor space with minimal sensory stimulation can offer much-needed relief and comfort.

5. Avoid Fireworks Altogether

Fireworks may not be enjoyable for everyone, and that’s perfectly fine. If the person is feeling distressed by the noise or bright flashes, consider alternative activities that you can both enjoy, such as drawing the curtains and indulging in films, audiobooks, or music.

To provide reassurance and comfort, engage in calm conversation and offer physical touch or a comforting hug if the person is feeling distressed.

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