Victorians urged to include people with dementia this Christmas

Wednesday 23 December 2015

As the festive season approaches, Maree McCabe CEO Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is urging families, carers and friends of people with dementia to be inspired to create a dementia-friendly festive season, where their loved ones with dementia are supported to be involved in the festivities.

Ms McCabe said encouraging people with dementia to participate in activities such as wrapping presents or perhaps setting the table will help them to feel included in amongst all the hustle and bustle of a family gathering.

“Perhaps printing out the lyrics to a few Christmas carols and having a sing-a-long, saving a few Christmas tree decorations to hang or cutting up some old Christmas cards and wrapping paper and making a collage with the children. A little preparation will help everyone to engage.” Ms McCabe said.

Alzheimer’s Australia has a number of resources available to support carers, families and people living with dementia such as a tip sheet relating to the holiday season and the issues that may arise for a person living with dementia available at www.fightdementia.org.au/understanding-dementia/tips-sheets.aspx, and a helpful booklet developed by friends of people living with dementia to help others remain engaged - The Friends Matter booklet.

Some tips for a dementia-friendly festive season include:

  • Flexibility when considering the best time to share a celebratory meal, bearing in mind that a change in routine may be confusing for a person with dementia.
  • Modifying the environment to ensure triggers for confusion are mitigated. For example, avoid blinking Christmas lights and artificial table decorations that appear edible such as fruits and sweets.
  • Creating opportunities for family members and friends to share the caring role. They may assist by hosting an event at their own home.
  • Encouraging the person with dementia to be involved in gift preparation.
  • 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.

Further advice can be sought by calling the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. The Helpline will operate through the holiday season from 9am to 5pm with the exception of national public holidays.

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Notes to media

When writing or talking about dementia, please provide your audience with the number for our National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 - a telephone information and support service available across Australia.

What is appropriate language for talking about dementia and why do we need it?

The words used to talk about dementia can have a significant impact on how people with dementia are viewed and treated in our community. Please read our Dementia Language Guidelines that have been developed by people living with dementia and carers.

About Alzheimer’s Australia Vic

In Victoria almost 81,200 people are living with dementia. This figure is projected to increase to 246,000 by 2050. Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is the charity and peak body representing people, of all ages, with all forms of dementia in Victoria. We provide specialised dementia information, education and support services.

Call our National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or visit www.fightdementia.org.au/vic

Media contacts:

Christine Bolt 03 9816 5772 / 0400 004 553 / christine.bolt@dementia.org.au

Stephanie Puls 03 9816 5745 / 0427 757 434 / stephanie.puls@dementia.org.au