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Monday 21 December 2015
Be merry, but mindful of dementia
As the festive season approaches, it is an opportunity to spend time with loved ones, but you may also notice changes in a person’s thinking and behaviour.
Carol Bennett, CEO Alzheimer’s Australia said while the festive season was a time for families to come together and celebrate, it was also a time to be mindful of the symptoms of dementia.
“Families who are quite often separated by distance or busy with their working lives can have an opportunity to spend more time together over the holiday period. While this can be a great time for celebration, it can also be a time where you might notice changes in a relative’s memory, their ability to perform familiar tasks, confusion about time or place, difficulties with language or judgement, misplacing things or changes in personality,” Ms Bennett said.
“Changes in a person’s thinking or behaviour might not be dementia, but it is important to note any changes and discuss your concerns with a trusted health professional as soon as possible.”
If you are visiting friends or relatives who have a diagnosis of dementia over the holidays Ms Bennett said it was important to provide support to help the person and their carer cope better over the Christmas period, particularly with changes to their routine or additional people in the family home.
“For a person with dementia, routine is very important. The holidays are a busy time and with lots of people coming and going it can be extremely difficult for a person with dementia to cope,” Ms Bennett said.
There are some things you can do to ensure a person with dementia and their carer are included and supported during the festive season such as:
- Be mindful that changes in routine may be confusing for a person with dementia.
- Modifying the environment to ensure triggers that might be confusing are mitigated. For example, at Christmas, edible looking artificial table decorations such as fruits, sweets or blinking Christmas lights might trigger confusion.
- Creating opportunities for family members and friends to share the caring role. They may assist by hosting an event at their own home or organising a group specific activity.
- Encouraging the person with dementia to be involved in gift preparation. It is also helpful to suggest gift ideas to family and friends.
- Allowing time for rest and quiet. Taking on too many tasks or trying to maintain past traditions may increase the feeling of being overwhelmed for the person living with dementia.
For further advice, information and support the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 will be operated during business hours over the holiday period (excluding weekends and Public Holidays).
Bianca Armytage | 0407 019 430 | [email protected]
Alzheimer’s Australia is the peak body representing people with dementia and their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. More than 342,800 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than half a million by 2030.
National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500
An interpreter service is available
(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)
Dementia is a National Health Priority Area
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