Tips for helping seniors with dementia enjoy the holidays

Photo courtesy of Senior Care Solutions and Oakwood Common. Oakwood Common resident Joyce McHenry (center) enjoys a holiday visit from her son, Tom McHenry, and his wife, Beata.

Photo courtesy of Senior Care Solutions and Oakwood Common. Oakwood Common resident Joyce McHenry (center) enjoys a holiday visit from her son, Tom McHenry, and his wife, Beata.

ALLEN PARK ­­—Years ago at this time, people often listened to the warm, smooth voice of Perry Como sing,
“Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam
When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze
For the holidays you can’t beat home, sweet home”

“This is a song that still resonates today for many families, including those who have seniors with dementia,” said Marcia Filek, geriatric care manager for Senior Care Solutions in Allen Park, affiliated with Beaumont Health. “With a little planning, patience and understanding, the holidays can continue to be meaningful for all.”

Filek offers tips for families to help manage the day for seniors with dementia, whether at home or visits away:
• Involve the loved one in the planning as much as possible; help them recall family traditions they enjoy
• Be flexible and spend time with smaller groups at home or in places the loved one is most familiar.
• Have celebrations earlier in the day; keep to a regular routine as much as possible; and provide a quiet place for loved ones to rest and recharge.
• Avoid too much stimulation with blinking, bright lights or moving decorations.
• Children are a blessing to those with dementia but keep the visits brief and give them a separate area for play.
• Help caregivers keep it stress free and manage expectations.
• Relive happy memories with storytelling.
• Balance solitude with socialization.

As a final recommendation, Filek said, “If your loved one enjoys music, you may even want to play some Perry Como tunes and other holiday favorites.”

Senior Care Solutions offers geriatric care assessments and case management services along with in home, non-medical and personal care services for seniors and post trauma patients. SCS provides services throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw and Monroe counties.