Because of our present Pandemic, you and your loved one (with health problems, including dementia) might be staying home and connecting with family through telephone calls, Skype, or Zoom. Others are so tired of being home alone they are venturing forth and taking the risk to celebrate with family in person.
If your loved one has a form of dementia, you might want to monitor the size of the family get-together. Large crowds are often difficult for many people with dementia. There is an overabundance of stimulation which overwhelms the person’s thinking process. The patient may become agitated with the noise level of the family and the exuberance of the young children.
A smaller group is much easier for a patient with dementia. In fact, some patients with dementia are at a stage where they like the attention from family members, even if they do not remember the person or the relationship.
As a visitor at this holiday get-together, you might be just the person who can help take care of the patient. This would certainly be a welcomed gift to the family caregiver who in many cases has been without help taking care of the patient alone for months. While caregiving for the day, be especially attentive to the patient’s signs of discomfort. Monitor the situation; bend and adjust your needs and your patient’s needs as they arise. Be especially attentive to the patient’s signs of discomfort. Help him or her find a quiet way to “decompress”, like quietly walking outside, rocking on the porch glider, or even lying down for a rest.
Others of you might not want to take care of the patient during this celebration. Watching a parent, sister or brother go through the changes of dementia is a difficult process. Perhaps you have avoided the situation by staying away on purpose. However, if you are now ready, find a way to be helpful. The more you know about the type of dementia your family member suffers from, the more you will know how to relate and what you can do to help your family’s caregiver. Many different types of roles may be appropriate. For instance, you might be good at researching and finding solutions to problems; or you might be financially secure and, in a position to pay for professional caregiving so that your family’s caregiver can get away and get the respite she or he needs. Luckily, a vaccine is available for some this year and for others in the early part of next year. Thus, visiting will soon be more plausible. When each family member takes on a responsibility, he or she is comfortable with, the whole family grows closer and no one feels overburdened. Knowledge is powerful and can help you understand what is going on in the dynamics of your family. There are several resources to help you learn more. Start with the Alzheimer’s association. They have written several articles on a myriad of topics pertaining to the dementia.
Whatever your situation is and or whatever you choose to do this holiday season, please stay safe and considerate of your family members. Remember, the vaccine is ready and will be distributed soon. In a few months you may visit each other safely. Happy Holidays to you all.