A ‘less is more’ approach is needed to help support family members or friends with dementia through the holiday season, says Dementia Auckland CEO Rod Perkins.
People with dementia have special needs at this busy time of year, he says.
“Family members or friends with dementia often require help to support them through the holiday season.
"We understand people are busy catching up with relatives, however the bustle of guests coming and going can be very disorientating for a person with dementia.
“It’s important not to ‘quiz’ people with dementia about people’s names. If the person seems to be having difficulty with names, just give them the name of the person. By giving this cue you can empower the person living with dementia to just enjoy the conversation without distress."
People with dementia can also have trouble navigating a new environment, so if you’re traveling to an unfamiliar location, take the time to do a ‘walk-through’, and make sure that doors are clearly identifiable. Ensure that your family member is able to move smoothly from one room to the next, and that lighting is consistent.
Familiar foods that are easy to eat are more accessible for people with dementia, and can also function as a memory aid. It may also be helpful to select plain crockery, or plain table linens.
"We mostly recommend that you enjoy the holiday," says Rod. "Supporting a person living with dementia may take some pre-planning at this time of year, but the rewards are worth it."