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Dementia Anxiety Redirect: A Gentle Touch and a Kind Word During the Holidays

Dec 21,2022

Gathering for the holidays, listening to the happy chatter, and enjoying the festive happenings is something we look forward to each year, but for someone that is living with a dementia it can be cause for confusion and anxiety.

The Alzheimer’s Association states that a person with dementia is biologically experiencing a profound loss of their ability to negotiate new information and stimulus. It is a direct result of the disease.

Holiday happenings that are joyful to many, may lead to anxiety and agitation for someone living with a memory impairment:

  • 🌟 Lights, Cameras, Action – Changes in the environment, unfamiliar settings, lighting, active children, family photos.
  • 🎉 Holiday Cheering – Holiday music, loud voices, and multiple conversations all happening at the same time.
  • 🍪 Cookies and Cocoa – Food high in sugar and caffeine and a full table of too many choices.

Here are some tips for you to help redirect a relative that is experiencing anxiety (and relieve their caregiver!) at your upcoming holiday gatherings:

  • Sit next to them and gently touch them on their arm. Tell them they are wearing your favorite color. Have a conversation about something you enjoy about the holiday, focusing on your experiences without asking them questions.
  • Ask if they would like to walk with you to view the decorations inside and bring them to a calmer area of the house. Sing a well-known holiday song with them, look at holiday cards or pictures of your family and tell a “story” about the pictures.
  • Prepare a plate of food for them, let them know that you got them all the favorites! If you are in charge of the dessert display, make sure it is somewhere a little bit “out of the way”.

I hope this brings some awareness to the struggles that individuals living with dementia and their caregivers face when they leave their familiar surroundings and normal routines. Remember them throughout the year and lend a hand when you can, it is the best present you can give them. 🎁

To learn more about redirection techniques visit these sites:

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