Pathways Home Health & Hospice Makes the Holidays Safer and Calmer for Dementia Patients

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Pathways Home Health, Hospice & Private Duty has published seasonal tips for coping with holiday activities such as planning, decorating, festivities, visitors, activities, kitchen safety, shopping and travel for a person with dementia.

Making Holidays Safer and Calmer for Dementia Patients

Pathways has published seasonal tips for coping with holiday activities such as planning, decorating, festivities, visitors, activities, kitchen safety, shopping and travel for a person with dementia.

Holiday gatherings can be fun and stressful. These gatherings can be even more stressful when a family member suffers from dementia. Pathways Home Health, Hospice & Private Duty has a special program for their hospice patients who have dementia. As part of this program, Pathways has published seasonal tips for coping with holiday activities such as planning, decorating, festivities, visitors, activities, kitchen safety, shopping and travel for a person with dementia.

Remember that people with dementia need routines—the same activities, in the same place, at the same time. Families should keep this in mind when visiting a loved one in a facility or taking them home for the holiday. The excitement, the car ride, change in surroundings and many people talking can cause the confused person with dementia to become agitated or upset.

These are some steps families and caregivers can take to make the holidays safer, calmer and more enjoyable for all.
http://pathwayshealth.org/resources/dementia-and-holidays.html

Planning:

If a family will be taking a loved one home from a facility for the holidays, plan ahead. Let the staff know several days ahead so they have time to obtain medications and clothes.
Allow extra time for everything, don’t rush the person.
Try to keep as them as much possible to their daily routine.

Decoration

Use ribbon instead of sharp hooks when hanging decorations.
Holly and mistletoe can be poisonous and berries pose a choking hazard.
Many decorations look like food and may even smell like the real thing, making them appealing to try to eat.

Festivities

Try to go to a place familiar to the loved one with dementia.
Assign tasks to other family members so the caregiver and subsequently the patient don’t become overloaded and stressed.
Plan for a quiet place for the loved one with dementia to go to if he or she becomes overwhelmed.

Visitors

Let the loved one with dementia know who is coming to visit.
Have visitors and family call ahead to determine best time to visit.
Small groups of visitors or family is advisable. Have them wear name tags as this might help with recognition.
Reintroduce family members as necessary. “Mary, my name is Betty.” And when the loved one asks, “Are you my granddaughter?” say “yes” and shake her hand and act very comfortable about this introduction.
If the loved one with dementia begins talking about the past, try not to reorient him or tell him he is wrong. Enter his reality and live his truth. Ask about the past memory.

Activities

Reminisce about the past.
Play holiday music familiar to the loved one.
Read holiday cards aloud.
Stuff stockings, watch a holiday video, look at family slides or pictures or albums, read scriptures, etc.

The Kitchen

Monitor the dementia patient one while in the kitchen.
Give them one task to help with baking or decorating. Try baking cookies, making pudding, folding napkins, polishing silver, etc.
Always check the microwave before turning on in case something was put in that is flammable.
Check all trash cans before throwing out garbage

Shopping

Don’t leave the loved one with dementia in the car or in the front of the store.
Shop during hours when stores are less crowded.
Dress the loved one with dementia in a bright yellow shirt which is easy to see if case of separation. Be sure they have a purse or wallet with identification.
Shop in smaller stores rather than the mall.

Travel

People with dementia should never travel alone. Hire a personal care aide to travel if a family member is unable to accompany the resident.
Travel may not be appropriate even with a companion if the person has: ­Consistent disorientation or agitation in familiar settings. Wanting to go home when away from home on short visits ­Delusional, paranoid, aggressive or uninhibited behavior ­Problems managing continence ­Teary, anxious, withdrawn behavior in crowded, noisy settings ­Agitated or wandering behavior

About Pathways Home Health & Hospice
Pathways Home Health & Hospice is a non-profit, community based organization which has served the Bay Area for over 37 years. Pathways was founded in 1977 by a remarkable group of Stanford physicians who saw the community’s need for professional care at home. That first year Pathways served 12 patients. Pathways now serves over 5,000 families a year in five Bay Area counties

Affiliated with El Camino and Sequoia Hospitals since 1986, Pathways Home Health & Hospice is accredited by The Joint Commission, and is a member of the Visiting Nurse Association of America, California Hospice & Palliative Care Association, and the California Association of Health Services at Home. Pathways Home Health & Hospice is a designated 2014 HomeCare Elite Agency for Quality Care.

For more information about Pathways services, grief workshops, volunteering, or making a donation in support of Pathways’ families, call 1 (888) 755.7855 or visit http://www.pathwayshealth.org/

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Judy Conner

Mandi Cacioppo
Pathways Home Health, Hospice & Private Duty
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