December 25, 2020

Boomerang Way


Brain Health and Wellness

Let’s Decorate! The Benefits of Holiday Decor for those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

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Twinkling lights, snow dusted trees, and bright gold and red ornaments hanging around the room – these are some of the things we see around the holiday season. Decorations are instrumental in setting the holiday spirit and getting people ready for celebration. For seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia, they are more important than you may realize.

One of the

main symptoms of Alzheimer’s is losing your sense of time. Alzheimer’s sufferers struggling with knowing the time of day, week, and even year. In the homes of these patients, you’ll often see several clocks, calendars, and other time telling devices. These serve as important reminders as to what time it is, and ultimately what they should be doing during this time. During the holiday season, decorations and other traditional holiday decor can serve as another reminder about what time of the year it is. Decorations are a subtle and beautiful way of reminding those with Alzheimer’s what is happening around them.

As Alzheimer’s and dementia progresses, people become more sensitive to their environment and rely more on their senses to figure out what’s going on around them. Having large, visible decorations that show a clear holiday theme can help to reorient these seniors and are used to help figure out what’s happening. This in turn, can be used to cue specific behaviours. If you’re trying to get a loved one to reminisce about the holiday season and recall some touching memories, having decorations can help cue holiday specific memories and behaviour. The star on top of a Christmas tree may help trigger a memory of making a star with family and friends.

Decorations serve another important purpose: they are a way to provide comfort and routine during the holidays.Following a routine provides stability and comfort to seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia. When you do familiar activities and follow a routine, this reduces stress for these seniors as they know what to expect and are less confused about it. Many seniors grew up decorating their homes for Christmas and other holidays. By following their tradition, you are giving them comfort and following a routine they’ve done for years.

Decorating for the holiday season is great opportunity to deliver person centered care. Person-centered care is providing individualized care to seniors and recognizing they have unique needs and wants. It is creating changes throughout Alzheimer’s care, and is even starting to be integrated into long-term care. The holiday season is the perfect time to explore person-centered care and work with your loved one to create a season they can enjoy to the fullest.

Following the person-centered care philosophy in long term care facilities can often be a challenge. It’s important to remember that seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia have the right to dignity, respect, and participation in their facility. Too often, long-term care facilities can feel just like that – a facility. Taking the time to decorate for the holidays and ask for input about the decor can encourage person-centered care and make a facility feel like a home.

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