Christmas time is often a busy and fun time for many people, filled with lots of festivities. However, if you are a family who is living with dementia, the holidays can be a difficult and challenging time. According to Age UK, there are around 500,000 people caring for someone with dementia, just in England alone. That means that a large percentage of these people are preparing for a Christmas with dementia in mind. People with dementia may become confused and overwhelmed during the Christmas period, due to changes in their environment and routine. Please see below some helpful tips to keep in mind to minimise the stress of this festive period, whilst suggesting some great gift ideas for people with dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Society lists some helpful advice on ways to support people with dementia at Christmas. These include:
- Put decorations up gradually - so not to change the persons environment all at once.
- Keep activities simple and familiar- sticking to their normal routine is a good idea if possible.
- Create a quiet area – if things do get busy with guests over the festive period, have a designated place in the home where your loved one can relax away from the noise.
- Be mindful of food – a big plate of Christmas dinner can be overwhelming for people with dementia who have difficulty with eating. Try not to overload their plate, or if the thought of eating something which is out of their normal is anxiety inducing, perhaps consider serving them what they normally eat on a day-to-day basis if possible.
- Have flexibility – keeping traditions can be hard for families who are living with dementia. What your loved one once enjoyed doing very year, can suddenly be overwhelming and confusing.
- Plan ahead – if you are visiting someone with dementia at Christmas, in their home or in a care home, make sure to plan a time and day so any preparation can be made ahead of time. If you are living with someone with dementia at Christmas, perhaps remember to give gentle reminders of names or ask your guests to introduce themselves, so that your loved one does not get embarrassed of anxious.
- Get everyone involved and bring back old memories – there are many ways people living with dementia can get involved at Christmas. Perhaps ask them to hang their favourite bauble on the tree, or play their favourite carols to sing along to. Another great way to bring back old memories, is to incorporate some games or activities which can help with reminiscing and allow the whole family to get involved.
We have found some fantastic gift ideas for those living with dementia this Christmas and have provided links on where to purchase them. All of the gift ideas are activities designed to get everyone involved and bring all the family together.
Category snap is a brilliant spin on the traditional ‘snap’ game, and is designed for those living with the mid stages of dementia. Each card has a different image, and it is up to who is playing the game to find themes between the cards to make a pair. No match is ‘wrong’ and the winner is whoever has the most amount of pairs at the end of the game. The pictures are easy to recognise and the game encourages creativity, helping to stimulate the mind. It’s the perfect game to play with all ages, and so perfect for children and older adults to play together.
Magnetic Picture Boards are designed to provoke reminiscence and conversation, with those living with dementia. They are great for those in mid-late stages of dementia who may struggle with puzzles. The magnetic picture boards come with different themes, for example the tool shed, the allotment, the sewing box, and the board has retro illustrations which can be removed and moved around with ease. There is no correct way to engage with the board, and it features conversation prompts such as ‘how do you use this tool?’. This is a great way to encourage conversation and again, can be used by all ages.
Another gift idea to promote reminiscence and conversation, are Aquapaints. These are white ‘sheets’, which once come into contact with water on a brush, reveal beautiful, coloured images of different themes. Some people with dementia may find the brush strokes soothing, and this is another brilliant way to express creativity. Once finished with them, leave the sheets to dry and you can use them over and over again. You can choose a garden theme, or a beach theme, or any theme you think might evoke most reminiscence and conversation with your loved one.
Jigsaw puzzles are great gift ideas and have been proven to gently exercise both sides of the brain to bring about a state of calm and relaxation. For those with early stages of dementia that still enjoy a challenge, this 63 piece jigsaw features an idyllic scene and bright colours to bring happy memories to mind. If the person you are buying for has early to mid-stage dementia, you may want to consider a 35 piece jigsaw. Again, the jigsaw is available in a wide range of images and fits perfectly inside the box to help with spatial awareness. Those with mid-late stages of dementia can still enjoy jigsaw puzzles, but it might be more helpful to consider puzzles with less pieces which are very large and easy to handle. This 13 piece jigsaw is a great gift idea, especially adapted with dementia in mind, with an easily recognisable image and very large pieces. Jigsaws can be a great activity for people with all stages of dementia to enjoy, and can be done alone or with the help from others.
This article is sponsored by Medequip – Manage At Home. We hope you have found this article helpful and informative.
To see the products on our website and for further information on where to purchase them, please click on the bold and underlined text. You can also find them listed below.
Please see below for the sources used in this article.
An image of category snap.
An image of a Magnetic Picture Board.
An image of Aquapaints.