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Dementia, families and the holidays

By Laura Swanson, Wellhaven Activity and Marketing Assistant

The holidays are a busy and complicated time for most people. There are so many events to go to, shopping to be done, baking, school concerts and other things. Not to mention your regular schedule of work, volunteering and/or taking care of children. The holidays can be an especially trying time for those with dementia as well as for their loved ones and care takers.

A person with dementia may feel a sense of loss and be very overwhelmed this time of year. It is best to confront the holidays in small doses. For instance, plan several small and short family visits, but make sure there is time for a break and some space before the next visit. If your family has a huge party where everyone in the family gathers just take it in short intervals and find a quiet place to rest if needed. If it is possible for a shorter visit to this big gathering that may be best.

Wrapping gifts or baking cookies can be a manageable activity that can get most anyone in the holiday spirit. Especially, if you have your favorite Christmas carols playing in the background. Try looking at old photographs and talk about past holidays. Sometimes the little things are the best. Be realistic about what you and your loved one can do. When a person has dementia, you can't expect things to be the same.

If you are a care person to someone with dementia that needs 24-hour care, take time for yourself. Ask someone to spend time with your person so you can have a break. Remember they may need a break from you just as much as you from them. Everyone needs time to have their own space.

On the last Tuesday of each month Wellhaven hosts a Memory Café at 10 a.m. at The Westwind. This free event includes a guest speaker, resources, comradery and tasty treats with coffee. If you know someone or are someone with dementia, please join us. Our next Memory Café is Nov. 28 and the guest speaker will be Nancy Abrahamson, dementia care specialist of the ADRC.

Thank you to all those who came to the Colleen Raye Concert held Nov. 2. Raye played music by Rosie Conroy and we had a wonderful time. Ladies, thank you for all your hard work and for coming to see us. We are also thankful for the opportunity to listen to the Peace in the Valley Singers that same day. This female choir from Woodbury, Minn., will be back at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 30, at Wellhaven. Feel free to join us. For more information, call Laura at 715-426-4633.