Being mindful of loved ones with Dementia during the holidays

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 7:51 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 8:04 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Heather Lawrence, Caregiver Support Coordinator for Valley Program-Aging Services, recommends updating family members on how the loved one is doing before the festivities and when that loved one is not around.

“You want to preserve everyone’s dignity and you do not want to have those kinds of discussions in front of someone who is living with Dementia,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence said a person living with Dementia might recognize your face, but not remember your name or how they know you. She recommends introducing yourself when you see them.

“You know say your name, say your connect without someone having someone say it or feel that embarrassment or that stress of trying to remember how to do I know this person, that person looks familiar but I cannot remember how I know them,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence said, there should be a quiet space where someone can escape to when it gets to be overwhelming. Having a change in the person’s routine can also cause stress, and they might get tired earlier in the day.

“With thanksgiving especially, many people are eating their main meal in the mid afternoon which is not a regular time someone in eats or maybe they are eating later in the evening,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence said making adjustments to eat earlier in the day can help. One way you can prepare is by talking with them about old memories.

“You can maybe look at old photo albums or talk about family reunions or family vacations sometime where we were all together. maybe some of those things will just be more comforting,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence said to keep your loved ones with Dementia involved in the conversation. You should speak clearly, keep it simple, and make eye contact.