Caring at Christmas- When Someone Has Dementia
James Ashwell founded his blog Unforgettable after his mother, Fay, developed dementia in her fifties. When James’ father suddenly died in 2006 the full extent of his mum’s illness was revealed and he, along with his siblings, became her main carers. James was twenty-five at the time. Fay died in 2011, aged 67 and just a few hours after James turned thirty. James said: ‘‘Looking back, I realise I was very lucky to have a mum who gave everything for her children, which is why I probably felt compelled to give everything back. Did I do the right thing? Who knows? I certainly mucked up my career, which she wouldn’t have liked. But I also found a passion I never knew I possessed; to help other people affected by dementia to live well, discover great products and to know that they, like my mum, aren’t alone.’
Unforgettable lists some top tips for the festive season when you are caring for someone with dementia. They include:
Have a plan
Spontaneous visits can cause anxiety so try and organise dates and times in advance so that you can all see the people you love but without undue stress.
Always include them
Ask the opinion of your loved one with dementia regarding presents, food and decorations so that they feel a part of the festivities. Focus on what they can still do, not what they can’t.
Eat and Drink (and be merry)
It is normal to be out of routine at Christmas but for people with dementia this can cause anxiety as well as physical health problems. No matter who you have staying your loved one still needs to eat and drink regularly and if they can no longer sit at the dining room table then, provided they are comfortable, a tray on their lap is fine.
Make sleep a priority
People with dementia can have trouble sleeping at the best of times. Sticking to their routine should help with this because it will make them feel safe and secure, especially if there are guests in the house or they are staying somewhere different.
Be kind to yourself
If you are physically and emotionally exhausted yourself then this can affect your ability to care for your loved one. So try and take time just for you, even if it is just ten minutes a day. Remind yourself you are doing your best.
To read the 12 Rules of Christmas in full please visit: https://www.unforgettable.org/blog/the-12-rules-of-christmas