We all know that caregiving, while rewarding, can be a very demanding job. Add in the increased demands of holiday decorating, special events, gift-giving, and more — let’s just say overwhelming doesn’t seem to cover how hard the holidays can be as a family caregiver. But let’s not forget about your elderly loved one, especially one who may be dealing with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia or challenge. The holidays create an enormous change in what normalcy they count on — and it may be quite confusing to experience.
So, how do you resolve the holiday rush and keep everything easy and enjoyable for everyone? Simplicity is probably the best way to make the holidays go as smoothly as possible. Here are a few simple ways to involve your loved one in memory-friendly activities which will help them feel included and involved.
The Greatest Gift of All
First and foremost, enlist the help of others when you need it! Often, people want to be of service to others but they don’t always know the most useful ways to help. Reach out to friends, family, neighbors, and your religious community for help when you need a hand with the following activities. This gives others a chance to be of service and gives you the much-needed break you deserve this season.
Deck the Halls
Art activities are both a fun way to pass the time as well as a way for your loved one to practice dexterity and creativeness. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, it’s the thought that counts!
- Make scented ornaments with potpourri. These are both beautiful and add a wonderful holiday aroma to the air.
- Add a festive flair to your home with a homemade wreath. This would look warm and inviting on your front door.
- Decorate a stocking and fill it with fun treats. Share with a neighbor who would benefit from a friendly visit and a fun gift.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Music makes the heart — and brain — grow strong. Nostalgic music can be both calming and bring happy memories.
- Pick out some of your loved one’s favorite holiday tunes. Enjoy while doing some of the activities below!
- Look into community musical programs or concerts to enjoy together.
- Enlist the help of loved ones or neighbors for a short caroling session. If your loved one is up for it, have them join in as well!
A Christmas to Remember
A trip down memory lane is a wonderful way to help your loved one feel included. Reminiscing about the good ol’ times encourages interaction and brings peace and comfort to all.
- Ask your loved one prompting questions about favorite holiday traditions. Maybe some of your most treasured traditions have been passed down from their childhood!
- Bring out a photo album to look through. This is a great way to share memories and fun stories, especially when paired with some hot chocolate!
- Read a favorite holiday book or poem together. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is always a classic.
Dashing Through the Snow
If not an overwhelming activity for your loved one, a change in scenery can be a fun way to soak in the holiday. Plus, socializing with others helps keep us all from getting lonely and depressed.
- Gather the family for a drive around your local community to take in all of the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations.
- Let someone else cook for the evening and enjoy your favorite meal at a local restaurant.
- Check your local movie theater for fun and jolly holiday movies. Take along some comfy blankets to create a cozy atmosphere.
All I Want for Christmas is You – Enlist your loved one’s help in holiday tasks. You will most likely be doing these anyway, and it’s a perfect opportunity to spend time with your loved one. Nothing can be as wonderful as time well spent together.
- Prepare a fun holiday “favorite” together. This could be a delicious meal or a traditional treat.
- Ask for ideas or opinions when buying gifts for family and friends. It can be fun to chat about what your friends and family may enjoy.
- Sending out holiday cards? Ask your loved one if they would like to help to address, stamp, or stuff envelopes for their loved ones.
Overall remember that taking on too much can be wearing and can detract from the true meaning and enjoyment of this beautiful time of year. Make things simple, and simply enjoy.