Nov 29, 2017

Celebrations With Loved Ones With Dementia

During 2015, Australia was said to have 2,800 residential aged care facilities providing care to more than 160,000 elderly people. This number is expected to increase to approximately 250,000 in the next 10 years with the highest area of growth being among residents aged 95 and older. One of the greatest challenges for the Australian aged care sector is in relation to dementia as it is the main reason that individuals seek out admittance to residential care facilities. It is estimated that up to 50% of care facility residents have dementia and that the number of people who develop the condition will increase from the 220 000 in 2015 to around 730,000 in 2050.

As hard as it may be to witness a loved one deteriorating due to dementia, it can also be very rewarding to see how much joy they get from simple, everyday experiences. Having someone you love be physically present but mentally absent is not easy to endure, especially on special occasions like Christmas and birthdays which no longer hold the same significance for your loved one. There is no need to discard these celebrations altogether, not even if the person is living in a care facility. It will, however, be necessary to make certain changes to ensure that the day maintains a sense of festivity without making anyone feel overwhelmed.

Shift the focus towards creating positive emotions instead of memories

Generally, we look for ways to make special occasions such as birthdays as memorable as possible. Due to the fact that people with dementia have problems with their short-term memory and will more than likely quickly forget any grand party, it is better to focus on creating a more simplified celebration with a happy vibe. Positive emotions can linger for numerous days in someone living with dementia, even long after the event that caused them is forgotten. Let go of the impulse to recreate old traditions in the care facility, rather ensure that the atmosphere is warm and pleasant and that your loved one is surrounded by a lot of happy smiles.

Find a new way of giving gifts

Finding the perfect gift for an older person can be a challenging task and even more so for someone living with dementia.  Your loved one may not be able to identify your gift as a present and may therefore be unsure of how to respond accordingly. Be sure to express the appropriate responses for your loved one by exaggerating your expressions; it is often easier to read and understand body language than it is spoken words.

Create a guest list around quality, not quantity

Changes in routine, excessive noise and fuss can all put tremendous stress on someone with dementia. Depending on personal circumstances, it may not be viable to include all the care facility residents in a birthday festivity for your loved one as it may be too overwhelming. Consider setting up a small space in a secluded area like a dining area or even your loved one’s room where an intimate celebration can be held instead.

While the memories and traditions you hold dear may no longer have the same relevance for your loved one if they have dementia, nothing prevents you from making the effort to celebrate special occasions in a new way. Individuals living with dementia has not lost the ability to enjoy and appreciate happy occasions, they just do so in a different way.

What do you have to say? Comment, share and like below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Transforming the capability of the dementia workforce: “68% of residents are known to have moderate to severe cognitive impairment”

The federal government’s response to the Royal Commission’s findings is a rare opportunity to make a once-in-a-lifetime difference to the experience of people impacted by dementia, says Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe. Read More

Aged Care Staff Accused Of Running ‘Fight Club’ With Dementia Patients

Three employees of an aged care facility in North Carolina, USA, have been accused of running a makeshift fight club and encouraging physical altercations between residents with dementia after a tip-off to local police. Marilyn Latish McKey, 32, Tonacia Yvonne Tyson, 20, and Taneshia Deshawn Jordan, 26, stand accused of watching, filming, and encouraging between... Read More

People may eat poorly in dementia, but what if they are hungry?

I don’t know about you, but if I found myself in a situation where I was sitting with a plate of food in front of me, feeling those all too familiar pangs of hunger, but was unable to decipher the complexities of just how to banish that hunger by manoeuvring the contents of the plate... Read More