Tryn Rose Seley is a gentle and creative force in engaging people who are living with dementia. I met her when I was searching for experts for the book and have truly enjoyed her wisdom and compassion. You’ll enjoy her ideas for having dementia friendly holidays.
Handling the Holidays with Grace, Compassion, and Fun!
Guest Post from Tryn Rose Seley
Be gentle with yourself and your expectations around holidays, which can be challenging for anyone, particularly those living with dementia. Plan with care, enjoy your family and friends, and adjust the schedule to suit a person’s energy.
Party Hearty, and Early
Have a party early in the day, when energy is best.
People living with dementia, like many of us, need to conserve energy. Never mind the midnight traditions; create a dementia friendly holiday celebrating by gathering at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. You will all enjoy the event and get home at a reasonable hour.
Film the Fun
A person with dementia often thrives with short, simple visits. Create a quiet room for one to one visits, and film the rest of the festivities to re-play for days, months, and years to come. The happy, boisterous fun can happen in another part of the house. If you run a camera in both rooms, you have captured the joy of the party, and can selectively play back the event in smaller bursts to enjoy the fun at any time of the year. When you all need a lift, play this footage.
Write Down Your Memories
Have a journal so family and friends can write memories of this gathering, or ones from the past, to read aloud any time you need a good story. Holiday visitors may come once a year, but you can extend their presence by asking them to write thoughts, affirmations, and stories from childhood, college, or any part of life. Writing down these stories brings the past to the present, where it can be re-lived, now and in the future.
When it comes to holidays this year, consider this: notice, adjust, and explore the possibilities of truly creating a dementia friendly holiday celebration and orchestrating your gatherings in a different way. Don’t give them up; change them up. #
For more inspiring ideas, read Tryn’s book, “15 Minutes of Fame/Empowering Caregivers of Those with Alzheimer’s”
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Deborah Shouse is the author of Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together and Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.