Regardless of how far apart we live, the holidays have a way of drawing us closer together. We may only see our friends and family once or twice a year, but when it comes to the holidays, we make sure getting together is a priority. Long distances and periodic gatherings can make it difficult to fully realize the changes experienced by an aging loved one. Pictures can capture visual changes, but only when we see an older family member in person can we truly grasp the mental, emotional and physical shifts that have taken place. Being prepared, and understanding the mental and physical condition of a loved one can make holiday gatherings easier and more comfortable for everyone involved.
The family members who are closest to the senior and most familiar with his or her mental and emotional status should update those who are visiting, prior to gatherings. Providing insight and understanding is a great service to everyone involved.
The first thing to understand when visiting and conversing with a frail loved one is how to communicate mindfully. Talking with someone who has cognitive impairments such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease requires a special approach. It’s important to avoid conversations that require memory recall or require following small details. Instead, try to carry on a conversation about what is happening in the present moment — the loved ones in plain view, the food at hand, and the beauty of the day. This will facilitate an engaging and meaningful conversation that is easier for the senior to follow.
Physical changes may require the elderly family member to remain in one place for much of the day, therefore it is important to purposefully spend the day with them. Make it a priority to include them in laughter and conversation. Make sure they don’t end up isolated and alone in the corner of the room. This doesn’t mean that everyone should gather around them at one time; rather, one or two close friends and family members should visit with the senior at a time, explaining outbursts of laughter or excited conversation as it occurs.
Home Care Assistance can help you and your family members understand how cognitive difficulties affect your loved one. As the leading brain health experts, our scientific division developed the Cognitive Therapeutics Method in order to help aging adults keep their minds engaged, promoting long-term brain health. The activity-based program gives our caregivers tools to exercise the five cognitive domains including memory, executive functioning, attention, language and visual-spatial perception. Any senior can work with caregivers trained in the program or our Cognitive Interventionists, who offer the program at a more personalized and intensive level. Over the holidays, you may notice cognitive deficiencies in your loved one and should consider the benefits of a qualified caregiver, who is trained in the Cognitive Therapeutics Method.
We know that people have different strengths and areas of interests throughout their lives, and that is why we take a careful account of the unique cognitive decline impacting each loved one. Home Care Assistance can give you insights that you can share with family members. Together, we can make sure that the holidays are enjoyed by everyone, and that a senior family member feels love and joy instead of confusion.
To learn more about how our Cognitive Therapeutics Method may help your loved one live a longer, healthier life.