Fall River Jewish Home

Holiday Decorations and Dementia

Decorating for Christmas or Hanukkah is a tradition in most every family. But if someone living in your home or who frequently visits your home has dementia, holiday decorations can prove challenging. Some pose a safety hazard while others can be disorienting and even frightening to someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

The Fall River Jewish Home reminds you to be careful of a few things when decorating this season.

·        While the candles on the menorah or the advent wreath are an integral part of the celebration, they may also put your loved one at risk. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, they are less able to express pain. They may burn themselves on the flame and not be able to communicate that. So consider the location you place burning candles carefully and never leave someone with dementia unattended around a lit candle. You might want to think about using an electric menorah or advent wreath this year.

·        Brightly colored twinkling lights may be a part of your holiday tradition. But they can prove disorienting for someone with dementia. A smarter choice this season would be clear, non-twinkling lights.

·        Life-sized holiday decorations may be frightening for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. They may not realize the manger scene is artificial or that Santa isn’t real. Take that in to account when you are considering using larger decorations this year.

·        Most of us have to shuffle furniture around and relocate tables to accommodate Christmas trees and other holiday décor. It is often causes clutter and obstructed traffic areas. That can put your loved one with dementia at risk for falls. If possible, remove extra furniture from the room during the holidays and store it in a basement or extra room.

·        Our last tip is to be aware of all of the extra noises that come with the season. Some decorations play music. Kids’ toys make noise. For someone living with Alzheimer’s disease, that can all add up to over stimulation. Pay attention to their non-verbal cues to see if they might need quiet time to calm down.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America has more great tips on holidays and dementia. You can download them for free at http://www.alzfdn.org/EducationandCare/holidays.html

Does someone in your family have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia? How are you planning to decorate for the holidays?

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