Published on: December 22, 2017
by Brittany Spencer for CBC News:
The Alzheimer’s Society of P.E.I. is offering some tips to families and caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia to help make the holiday season less stressful.
1. Sensory baskets
When it comes to gifts, creating a basket of sensory items for an individual with Alzheimer’s or dementia, full of things that will appeal their senses.
It could be a photo album of memories, it could be newspaper clippings, it’s great to have an iPod and headphones so that their genre of music is in that little basket.
Other items to include could be stuffed animals or soft blankets, knitted mittens, soaps and lotions. She also recommends creating a fidget blanket, which is a blanket with several different tactile elements, including buttons, ribbons, or tassels, that a person can play with.
2. Practical gifts
Another set of gift ideas include items that can help a person with Alzheimer’s with daily tasks.
Simple things like Post-It notes, having a whiteboard that has information that they might be repeating or inquiring about that’s posted somewhere for them to be able to take a look at is always helpful.
Other helpful gift ideas include simple or universal remote controls with only one or two buttons, phones with large buttons or photo-assigned buttons and iPads or tablets.
There are also many gifts that can be useful for helping people stay mentally and physically active, such as gifting crosswords or sudoku puzzles with large print, puzzles and memory card games. If people are able to be physically active, gifts like small weights or FitBits can be a good way to keep people moving and measure their health.
3. Plan smaller, shorter gatherings
People living with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be very sensitive to levels of noise or stimulation around them.
Keep celebrations short or consider bringing a person with dementia to a more meaningful part of an event, including short meals or a church service.
“It doesn’t need to be all day that they’re with you,” Corrine Hendricken-Eldershaw, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society of P.E.I. said. “But a window of time and within that window of time we try to be mindful of what will be helpful.”
She also advises people to make sure there is a quiet space away from the celebration where a person can go to take a break or visit with a smaller number of people.
4. Create engaging activities
Creating engaging or familiar activities can help people with Alzheimer’s or dementia feel more comfortable during holiday celebrations.
When you think of engaging activities, go back to your checkerboards, your dominos, your cards. Bring in some things that are important to them over the years. Look through photo albums or playing familiar music to make a person with dementia more comfortable during visits.
“People really enjoy those kinds of gatherings and things and it’s in their long-term memory,”Hendricken-Eldershaw said, adding “So they’re going to really enjoy that kind of activity over the holidays.”
5. Support caregivers
Remember that our caregivers are our moms, our dads, our brothers, our sisters; Often we forget the caregiver in this whole journey.
Give caregivers opportunities to go out and do something for themselves over the holidays and offer help when you can.
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