A tradition families often enjoy is decorating their home for Christmas or Hanukkah. Decking the halls can serve as the official start to the holiday season. If a senior who lives with you or visits often has dementia, however, there are a few holiday decorating precautions you should be familiar with to keep them safe.
Decorating Safely When a Family Member has Dementia
- Watch the lights: Holiday decorating often includes adding flashing or twinkling lights to the tree, banister, fireplace, and more. While these types of holiday lights can add ambiance to the home, they can be disorienting for a senior with dementia. A safer choice is lights that stay lit and don’t blink or flash.
- Avoid animated decorations: Animated decorations such as a life-size Santa or characters that sing and dance can be fun for the little ones, but frightening for an adult with dementia. Leave those packed away this year, and opt for more natural décor instead.
- Limit the noise: A noisy, chaotic environment can cause confusion and agitation for people with dementia. That can lead to wandering. Try to be mindful of the environment during the holidays. When you can’t avoid having a noisy house, make sure your senior loved one has a quiet room they can retreat to and relax.
- Clear pathways: As a senior’s dementia progresses, they may develop problems with balance that cause them to be unsteady on their feet. It puts the senior at higher risk for a disabling fall. When you are decorating, make sure to keep the pathways your loved one uses most often clear and free of decorations and extension cords.
- Use battery-operated candles: If your family’s traditions include lighting the menorah or an advent wreath together, you might need to switch from real candles to battery-operated ones after your lighting ceremony. Because dementia often robs people of their good judgment, they might not recognize the danger of a lighted candle.
To learn more about holiday safety when a loved one has Alzheimer’s, visit Alzheimer’s Education Caregiver Holiday Tips at the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
Memory Care at Five Star Senior Living
If you are a family caregiver struggling to keep a loved one safe at home, we would like to invite you to tour a Five Star Memory Care community. We call it The Bridge to Rediscovery. From a thoughtfully designed environment to a full schedule of meaningful activity, we help seniors with dementia live their best quality of life.