This week we are getting ready to celebrate Easter, or Passover with our families. Holiday’s come with challenges when one of our guests is living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Our Easter and Passover festivities can be busy and high-paced.
Our loved one may have been the leader of Seder or guided us through the Easter traditions. As a family, we may expect that the holiday remains the same as usual. We must remember that a mental degradation that will influence the events of the weekend. Here are a few tips on celebrating the holiday with a loved one who is living with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Create a Safe Environment
As the holiday approaches, prepare your loved one by talking about any plans you have as a family. Safety is the main priority! Bring your loved one to the location of the festivities beforehand. Sometimes, new locations can be confusing and disconcerting for them. We want to make sure they feel safe and comfortable where they are. Being around people they don’t see often may also arouse anxiety. Keep reunions small, and intimate to prevent any discrepancies. Make sure everyone in attendance is aware of the mental health of our family. It is important that we all play an active role in creating a safe space.
Simplify Your Traditions
Although your family does have long-term memory, certain activities may be too stimulating. Some activities, like Easter egg hunts, can stimulate confusion and anxiety. The goal of the weekend is to keep it simple, and as close to their original schedule as possible. Drastic changes in their schedule can be disorienting and confusing. It is best to tone down the activities to the basic celebrations.
Let Them Know They Matter by delegating small tasks during the holiday. Delegating that much responsibility is impossible without any setbacks. It can be overwhelming and frustrating for everyone involved. Consider delegating smaller, and important tasks to our family. For example, they might enjoy decorating eggs, or help prepare a dish in the kitchen. For Seder, suggest that they open the door for Elijah. Most importantly, respect their boundaries. Suggest another activity if they refuse to do something.
The key to a safe and comfortable holiday is to let your family know that you love them. There may be surprises and unexpected events. These holidays are about faith, hope, and love. We never know what the future holds! Cherish every moment that you have with your loved one. The moments that we usually take for granted are the ones that stick with us forever. Our best bet is to live each moment with gratitude and compassion.