The Christmas period can be a difficult and lonely time for the elderly. Whether you’re a carer or welcoming an older relative or friend to spend time with you this year, there are a few things to take into consideration to ensure everyone has an enjoyable Christmas. Ben Atkinson-Willes, founder of Active Minds suggests the following:
Make sure to plan ahead
The best way to ensure that your Christmas is as stress-free as possible is to plan. This will help the day run as smoothly as possible, ensuring that both you and your loved ones enjoy the festivities.
Speak to family members in advance about the plans for the day, and make sure everyone works together to ensure elderly members feel included and part of conversations. Elderly people enjoy spending time with younger members of the family – don’t assume they won’t be interested in hearing about the latest social media craze or computer game.
Food and drinks
Food and drink plays a big part of any Christmas. It’s important to think about eating and dietary requirements for elderly relatives as sometimes older people may have particular needs. Try and serve food that is familiar to your loved one as this will help them feel comfortable and relaxed. People living with dementia struggle with eating for a variety of reasons, for example, lack of appetite. When Christmas dinner is served don’t overload their plate, as this can be quite daunting.
Think about different games and activities that are inclusive to all generations. If an elderly relative or friend has dementia, set up a quiet space where they can go if things become a bit too hectic, with some activities that can help them relax, like a jigsaw or game.
Christmas is the busiest time of year and caregivers experience a struggle trying to balance Christmas plans and looking after their loved ones. As the carer of an elderly person, Christmas can be an incredibly stressful time of year, so you must make sure you take some time for yourself. You may want to have in place some respite care for after the festivities have ended to give yourself a well-deserved break.
In 2010, product designer Ben Atkinson-Willes set up Active Minds to help support his grandfather who had been living with Alzheimer’s disease for over 10 years. In caring for his grandfather, Ben discovered that there was a lack of quality, age-appropriate activity products available for people living with dementia. Ben responded as a product designer and set about researching and developing a range of new of ground-breaking activities for adults living with dementia.