SEATTLE, Nov. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Holiday joy can be mixed with stress for those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's disease. In fact, the number of calls to the Alzheimer's Association national hotline about people with dementia who have wandered away traditionally increases 10-percent during the November and December holidays. However, an expert with Emeritus Senior Living says with the right approaches the season can be successful for all concerned. To help families with this issue, Emeritus will launch its "Memorable Moments" initiative in November, National Alzheimer's disease Awareness Month.
As part of the program, Emeritus professionals will visit seniors with dementia and their caregivers to provide insights into creating a smooth, joyful holiday experience. During the visits, Emeritus will deliver free "Memorable Moments" booklets on the topic and a dining set specially designed to enhance the dining experience for those with Alzheimer's.
"The key to a successful holiday season is involving loved ones with memory loss into activities to the appropriate extent, so they feel involved and cared about, but not to the point that it becomes overwhelming," said Emeritus Vice President Kelly Scott, who offers the following recommendations.
- Involve them in the preparations: Ask your loved one to help you make ornaments, decorate the tree, polish the menorah, wrap presents, and stuff envelopes. "At times, people with Alzheimer's wander because they are frustrated by having nothing to do," Scott said. "Asking them to help enables him or her to feel productive and useful."
- Bring the party home: If you choose to entertain, invite people to the home of your loved one. This will create a more comfortable environment and reduce the stress of having to travel. "We suggest limiting the number of people you invite, because large crowds can be confusing for people with memory loss," she said. "We also recommend showing your loved one pictures of the people coming and talk about how your loved one knows them."
- Prepare visitors: Talk to friends and family before they arrive so they know what circumstances to be prepared for when meeting with your loved one. As people with dementia may remember faces, but not names, have guests wear name tags.
- Make meals easier: Make it simpler for your loved one to eat by creating color contrast between the tablecloth, the plates, and the food being served, so each is easy to distinguish visually. Set the table with shallow bowls with wide brims rather than flat plates or deep bowls; they're easy and neat to dine from, and can be used for all of the fare. Provide utensils with large, easy-to-grasp handles. "We recommend serving your loved one's beverages in the same kind of glasses that others are using, but include a straw to make them easier to sip," said Scott.
- Take care of yourself: Ask for and accept help from family and friends. Make sure you take time for yourself during this hectic season. Take a nap, go to a movie, or do something else you enjoy. This will keep you energized for the busy season and better able to care for your loved one.
- Holidays offer key to unlock long term memories: The holidays can provide a powerful reminiscing tool for anyone with dementia. The season is nostalgic for all of us, making it a very magical time to have your loved one be truly engaged and by recreating, reliving or simply discussing holiday family traditions. Engage them in a familiar family tradition, even from their childhood. Making a special recipe such as fudge, cookies or egg nog for Christmas or making latkes for Hanukkah are just two of many activities that can bring back memories and feelings of joy.
"The holidays are such a wonderful family time and it's important for those with Alzheimer's or dementia to be able to share in this special season," Scott said. "We hope these approaches will help families in having a joyful celebration."
If you or someone you know could benefit from a free home visit and Memorable Moments kit, locate your nearest Alzheimer's and Memory Care community at www.emeritus.com, or email us at [email protected].
About Emeritus Senior Living
Emeritus Senior Living is the largest assisted living and memory care provider in the United States, with the ability to serve nearly 54,000 residents. More than 31,000 employees support approximately 510 communities throughout 45 states coast to coast. Emeritus offers the spectrum of senior residential choices, care options, and life enrichment programs that fulfill individual needs and promote purposeful living during the aging process. Senior living service offerings include independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, home health care, and rehabilitation services. Emeritus experts provide insights on senior living, care, wellness, brain health, and family topics at www.emeritus.com, which also offers details on the organization's family-focused philosophy and services. Emeritus' common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ESC.
SOURCE Emeritus Senior Living