Yes, holidays are special times, but they can also be stressful on many people, particularly people who find themselves alone, or people who live with dementia.
Here are 10 simple “visitor do’s” from dementia care pioneer Teepa Snow for those who might not be accustomed to spending time with someone with dementia but who will be visiting during the festive season:
- Start with a smile and a handshake
- Introduce yourself by name, even if you think the person with dementia knows you well
- Use short phrases; pause between thoughts and ideas
- Talk about old times
- Talk about happy events and memories (say “I remember,” NOT “do you remember?)
- Accept general comments, don’t delve too deep
- Be prepared for repetition
- Do something with the person instead of just talking
- Go with the flow of the conversation
- Stay calm
Share this link or download Teepa’s tips below, and send them to your holiday visitors BEFORE they arrive for their visit. The PDF includes 10 tips for people with dementia as well as 10 tips for care partners; it’s a great resource. Also, Teepa’s Holiday GEMS will help you better understand how to engage your loved one with dementia wherever they are in the disease process. You can also download the GEMS(TM) PDF at the end of this post.
Besides these great Teepa Snow tips, here are 10 Festive Dementia “Don’ts” from MyAlzheimersStory:
- Don’t argue. Ever.
- Don’t ask if they remember you
- Don’t be disappointed if they don’t recognize you
- Don’t ask them if they remember specific people, things or events. Instead, talk about the people, things or events yourself and let them join in
- Don’t treat them in ways you wouldn’t want to be treated yourself
- Don’t exclude them from activities
- Don’t talk about them as if they aren’t there when they’re right there beside you
- Don’t pity or patronize them
- Don’t forget they are people just like you
- Don’t focus on what they can’t do; celebrate the things they can
These tips work anytime; you can use them all year round.
Here are the download gifts from me to you:
- Teepa Snow’s 10 Top Holiday Tips for Everyone Living with Dementia
- Teepa Snow’s Holiday GEMS
- MyAlzheimersStory’s 10 Festive Dementia Don’ts