NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Thanksgiving is this week and friends and families are celebrating.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is sharing six steps to create a dementia-friendly Thanksgiving, according to a news release.
More than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia-related illness.
“We want individuals living with dementia to experience the joy and togetherness that comes with Thanksgiving, which is why it’s important for family caregivers to be proactive and sensitive to their loved one’s needs,” said AFA’s Director of Educational and Social Services, Jennifer Reeder, LCSA, SIFI. “A few small adaptations can make a big difference in enabling someone with dementia to participate in, and enjoy, Thanksgiving celebrations.”
Here are six steps people can follow to make Thanksgiving more dementia-friendly:
Factor their routine into the schedule.
Any change in routine can be hard for someone living with dementia, so it’s best to plan the celebration around their routine. Think about having the celebration earlier in the day to minimize the potential impact of “sundowning,” which is a common syndrome that causes agitation and confusion in the late afternoon-early evening.
Plan for help.
Friends and family members are typically eager to help, but might not know how. However, by giving them certain things to do, like bringing a dish or decorating, people can then prepare for the celebration.
Prepare your loved one.
People can try to familiarize their loved ones with guests by showing photos or having a phone or FaceTime chat before the celebration. People can also make an invitation to share so loved ones know the details and that it will be taking place.
People who are hosting should share beneficial information about their loved ones, like ways to communicate, what they respond to, and what may be distressing. This helps to facilitate positive interactions and engagement among everyone.
Keep your loved one involved.
People can make adaptations that allow loved ones to join in the celebration by focusing on what they can do like inviting them to help prepare ingredients for an easy dish or setting the table. Bringing joy to the celebration with familiar music or looking at photos can also be helpful.
Have a quiet space.
There should be a space in the house that’s quiet for them to go if the celebration becomes too much for them. Also having comfort items like a blanket or sweater can be helpful. The flow of guests and visitors should be controlled too.
Families who have questions can contact the AFA’s Helpline which is available seven days a week by phone (866) 232-8484, text message (646) 586-5283, or via web chat.