The holiday season can present unique challenges for caregivers when a loved one lives with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Decking the halls is a tradition most families in Missouri and Illinois look forward to every year. But holiday décor can increase agitation and fear for those living with memory loss.
To help caregivers enjoy a peaceful holiday season, we offer the following advice:
Replace twinkle lights with those that stay lit. Adults living with dementia may become frightened or disoriented by the constant blinking of twinkle lights.
Use battery operated candles instead of real ones. They are a safer alternate to having an open flame near someone with Alzheimer’s disease who might not recognize the danger it presents.
Eliminate faux food decorations. We often use faux fruit and artificial gingerbread ornaments to decorate with year after year. For someone with Alzheimer’s disease, these decorations may look all too real. They may try to eat them and choke or become ill.
Conquer the clutter. We all know holiday decorating takes up extra space in our homes. An unsteady gait combined with clutter is a bad combination. Keep the traffic areas open especially if your senior loved one paces in the evenings.
Manage the cords. To get our tree lights and decorations looking like we want them to often seems to require running extension cords all around the house. Make sure to tape cords down in traffic areas to keep them from creating a fall hazard.
Watch out for things that shine. Glittery decorations that shine might be tough to resist touching for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, these types of ornaments tend to be easily breakable. If you must use them, place them above or below your loved ones eye level.
For more ideas on making the most of the holiday season when a loved one lives with dementia, The Alzheimer’s Association has a great holiday tip sheet that you can download.