If your family is like most families, the holiday season means decorating your home, wrapping gifts and attending or hosting holiday parties. Festive lights and trimming the tree are often the start of the season. However, when a loved one lives with a disability, the holidays can present unique challenges. Preparing ahead of time can help you and your loved one have a less stressful and more enjoyable holiday.
Tips for an Enjoyable Holiday Season
- For many people with a disability, over-stimulation can create a variety of problems ranging from fatigue to difficult behaviors. Loud music and twinkling holiday lights can be two common triggers. When you are decorating your home, opt for static lights on holiday trees and garlands. They are much less disorienting for those with cognitive impairments. Also consider setting up a quiet room for your loved one to retreat to when things get especially loud. You might be able to set up head phones attached to the television in that room to allow your loved one to tune out the commotion from the party.
- While the holidays are notorious for overindulging in treats and sweets, try to help your loved one maintain a healthy diet. Too much sugar and salt can aggravate health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
- If you and your loved one with a disability will be attending an event at someone’s home, be sure to fill them in on your loved one’s challenges and needs. Most hosts can make accommodations if they know about these things ahead of time. Consider bringing a “busy bag” of books and activities they can do if they become restless and bored during the party.
- Bring the party to your loved one if they live in a group home or residential care facility. Most of these communities are happy to make accommodations for families to celebrate together in a private dining area or conference room. Even if you can’t leave a holiday tree behind, you can bring a small one in just for the occasion.
- Finally, don’t be afraid to say “no.” Most of us hate to disappoint friends and family by turning down an invitation to a holiday gathering. Yet when you are the caregiver of a loved one with a disability, it is sometimes necessary to do so. Accept that it is OK and that you may be able to attend next year.
We hope these tips help you enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!