By Kay Kaylor
I advocate for nursing and assisted living residents as the Region 9 Long Term Care Ombudsman employed at the San Juan Basin Region Agency on Aging (SJBAAA). Some of the many concerns related to aging and care will be discussed here.
The Alzheimer’s Association (AA) offers multiple resources for caregivers of people living with symptoms of dementia. As vacation preparations begin during the pandemic, some of the following tips could help families. Most of the information here is taken from this website: alz.org/help-support/resources/holidays.
• To adjust everyone’s expectations, hold a group discussion to discuss the celebrations in advance. Make gift suggestions for the person with cognitive or memory problems, given the stress and risk. The AA website link above provides ideas.
• This is also the time to ensure that caregivers pay attention to their own physical, mental and emotional well-being.
• Be sure to involve the person with dementia in plans and activities, considering what is most comfortable and enjoyable for that person.
• Let guests and others know what to expect from any changes they may see in the person with dementia. For example, the person may be particularly brooding at this time of year and express it in different ways. A sample letter is included in the previous link.
• Give yourself permission to plan manageable and safe activities. Your gatherings might need to be smaller and more casual. A tradition may need to be changed or eliminated this year.
• Consider celebrating earlier in the day to avoid evening confusion by the caregiver.
• Holiday activities may include dropping off baked goods, walking or driving to view outdoor decorations, a holiday parade by family and friends, outdoor tours with hot drinks and the creation of cards to send.
• Create videos of people opening gifts, cooking or sending greetings. Or invite others for a live video of games or songs.
• Be aware that loud sounds or too many people talking at the same time may cause anxiety or difficulty following the conversation for the person with dementia.
SJBAAA offers resources to people aged 60 and over or benefiting from health insurance; see sjbaaa.org. For more information and assistance, call (970) 264-0501 and listen to the recording to select an extension.