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How to Include a Senior with Alzheimer's in Your Holiday Celebrations

The holidays are typically a season when friends and loved ones join together to celebrate. Pausing to reflect on the reason behind the season and to count your blessings makes the time together especially meaningful. When a senior in the family has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, it’s essential to find ways to include them without increasing their anxiety and stress.

If you will be hosting a holiday gathering this year, these tips can help you plan an event that will be joyful for everyone.

Planning a Holiday Party with Memory Loss in Mind

1. Be mindful of when you host the party

Adults with Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of memory loss, often have times of day that are more optimal than others. If your loved one struggles with sundowning syndrome, a phenomenon where confusion and anxiety are heightened as the sun goes down, take this into consideration. You may want to host a holiday lunch or brunch instead of a cocktail party or dinner. This will allow both you and your loved one to better enjoy yourselves if you plan your party around their best and worst times of day.

2. Plan for quiet time at the party

Depending on what stage of Alzheimer’s your family member is in, they may need to take a break after spending time with guests. Create a quiet room for them to retreat to in case your loved becomes agitated or upset. Have a few familiar belongings there, along with soft music and some meaningful activities. You might provide family photos to look through or an art project to work on. Also, arrange to have a familiar friend or family member visit with the senior one-on-one in this quiet space.

3. Structure activities carefully on party day

From last minute decorating to food preparation, the day of a party is often hectic and stressful for hosts. For an adult with memory loss, a chaotic environment can be tough to process. It may increase anxiety and agitation.

To the extent you can, try to shield your family member from the pre-party chaos. If they attend an adult day center, it would probably be helpful for them to spend the day there. If not, consider enlisting the support of a familiar loved one for them to enjoy the day with.

4. Share the diagnosis ahead of time

If your party will include guests unfamiliar with your family member’s diagnosis, it may be prudent to let them know ahead of time. While some family members may understand how Alzheimer’s impacts everyday life, not everyone does. A simple text message or email describing the situation will usually suffice.

Memory Care at Sunrise Senior Living

In Sunrise Senior Living’s Memory Care neighborhoods, we recognize the importance of honoring each resident’s life story. Our team members work hard to create an environment where each resident feels productive and safe.

The best way to learn more about our memory care services is to visit a Sunrise community in person. Call 888-434-4648 to schedule a private tour today!

Article By: Sunrise Senior Living

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