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How to Navigate the Holidays with Your Loved One with Dementia

The holidays are a cherished season of love and giving. But how do you successfully navigate your beloved family traditions when a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia?

The Kensington Park Senior Living and the Institute on Aging partnered for a virtual Zoom event on Dec. 14 for support in “Navigating the Holidays with Your Loved One with Dementia.”

During the event, the panel of experts discussed purposeful gift ideas and creative, meaningful ways to spend time together and successfully navigate the season.

Read on for Kensington Park Senior Living’s tips on planning gatherings and carving out meaningful activities with your loved ones this holiday season.

Planning gatherings and activities for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia: A guide for families and caregivers

During our caregiver event, the panel discussed how to adapt while caring for your loved one and discover new ways to find joy in the wonderfulness of the season.

At Kensington Park Senior Living, we understand the unique challenges caregivers face, especially when their loved ones have an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis.

But with careful and thoughtful planning, the holiday season can remain full of cheer for the whole family.

Prior to your holiday gatherings, evaluate your loved one’s current needs to create a plan that addresses these needs.

If you’re the holiday host, create a safe space for your loved one to go if they’re feeling tired or overwhelmed. If you’re attending gatherings, determine which parties to attend and how long to stay.

Remember to lean on family and friends for support as you create a plan for your loved one, and communicate your needs and their needs so everyone can be on the same page.

Making memories and spending meaningful time together is best kept simple

Often, it’s best to keep gatherings intimate and simple to minimize stress and confusion. However, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the season that are just as meaningful.

Consider creating new traditions with your loved one through simple, fun activities, including:

  • Crafting projects
  • Homemade holiday cards
  • Decorating a new cookie recipe
  • Hosting a small holiday movie marathon
  • Listening to holiday tunes
  • Choosing a night to pull out old photographs and create a collage or scrapbook

Check out our Kensington Konnect hub for more activities and ideas you can enjoy with your loved one.

It may be challenging at first to not attend a gathering or host a party that you have done for several years. But there is magic in building new traditions to make up for the old.

Make sure to offer yourself and your loved one kindness and compassion as you grieve the changes you are experiencing, which can feel more pronounced during the holiday season.

Ask family and friends for help if you need a break or are feeling additional stress.

Gift ideas for each stage of memory loss

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are progressive, so what your loved one may have enjoyed as a gift last year could be different this year.

Let’s take a brief look at the stages of memory loss to give you an idea of your loved one’s gift needs at each stage:

  • Early stage: Your loved one may still live fairly independently, but may be experiencing symptoms such as forgetfulness, confusion, and trouble planning or organizing
  • Middle stage: Symptoms in the middle stage may worsen and new symptoms may appear such as behavior or personality changes, sleep issues, and anxiety or depression
  • Late stage: Symptoms become more severe in the late stage, and the care focus shifts to soothing, comforting, and indulging the senses

Look for items that are tailored to your loved one’s interests but are appropriate for their stage.

For example, a puzzle they may have enjoyed in the early stages may become too difficult in the middle or late stages.

Items that allow your loved one creative expression and a sense of purpose can boost their mood and spirits.

Consider the following examples of gift ideas for your loved one:

  • Puzzles or word puzzles
  • Craft or painting kits
  • Coloring books
  • Picture books focused on their interests, such as sports, animals, or travel
  • Board games
  • Audio books
  • Subscription to music streaming or movie streaming services
  • Homemade gifts or baked goods
  • Sensory pillow or busy blankets
  • Heated blanket
  • Cozy socks, slippers, or robe
  • Helpful home tools, such as an easy-to-read alarm clock or remote
  • Essential oil diffuser
  • Digital picture frame
  • Stuffed animal or doll

All residents at Kensington Park Senior Living have the option to enjoy regularly scheduled activities to foster engagement and preserve wellness.

As you decide on a few meaningful gifts for your loved one this year, keep in mind what types of gifts will help them feel engaged and fulfilled.

How Kensington Park Senior Living devotes care to benefit both seniors and their family caregivers

Our Promise at Kensington Park is to love and care for your family as we do our own.

Our expert care is executed by a loving, compassionate team committed to serving others and helping families navigate the challenging transition to senior living.

As specialists in all aspects of independent living, assisted living, and memory care, we offer services and programs that are thoughtfully designed, clinically comprehensive and highly personalized.

We are here for you—skilled, prepared and ready to participate fully in your care journey.

No matter where you are in your caregiver journey, we have the information and resources to support you, including:

  • Kensington Konnect hub with informative and entertaining resources
  • Blog filled with educational content and event recaps
  • Partnerships with leading experts in Alzheimer’s and dementia research
  • Frequent events to educate and support our community

Our loving team is standing by, eager to listen and ready to help.

Kensington Park Senior Living, your partner in caregiving

Memory loss is life-changing for all involved. 

At Kensington Park, we understand Alzheimer’s and dementia and seek ways to capitalize on resident strengths, despite the deterioration of recall. 

We’re focused on the beauty in simple, special times, and are committed to helping residents and families find a way to enjoy them together.

Our goal is to help each resident live independently as long as they are able. We provide care customized to your loved one’s level of memory loss—offering assistance where needed but stepping back to encourage independence.

We offer the following services:

  • Full spectrum of clinical support
  • Licensed nurses on-site 24 hours a day to provide medication management and diabetes management
  • Full-time director of nursing
  • Physicians office
  • Rehabilitation services onsite through our partnership with Genesis Rehabilitation
  • Superior dining program tailored to your loved ones dietary needs
  • Full calendar of life enrichment activities, including small-group Pocket Programming
  • Couples and pets welcome

RSVP today to attend our virtual caregiver event, and contact our team if you’d like more information on the event, our partnerships, our resources, or our full services.

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