Holiday Safety When a Loved One Has Dementia: 7 Tips for Colorado Caregivers
Every December we receive questions from caregivers about decorating for the holidays when a senior loved one has Alzheimer’s disease. While it is a tradition in most Colorado households, the challenge of maintaining a safe environment often makes families reconsider putting up their holiday décor.
Over the years we have developed a list of tips to share with caregivers to help balance the desire for a festive holiday season with the need to keep a loved one with dementia safe. Here are 7 things you can do:
1. Consider a more modest display than in past years. That will help minimize the clutter and noise that often increase agitation for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Replace twinkling lights on a holiday tree or flashing lights in other displays with static lights. They are less disorienting for those with dementia.
3. Leave animated and noisy ornaments in the box this year. Those may be confusing and frightening for your loved one if they don’t realize it is just a decoration.
4. Life-sized or oversized decorations may also present a problem for someone with dementia. They may create anxiety if the senior thinks a chubby stranger in a red suit is in their home.
5. Keep traffic areas free from electric cords and other clutter. While decorating often means moving furniture around and running electric extension cords, it is important not to obstruct the routes your loved one uses. That increases their risk for a fall.
6. If you usually have candles as a part of a Menorah or advent wreath, consider using battery operated ones instead. An open flame can present a safety risk for someone whose judgment might be impaired because of their disease.
7. Minimize decorations that might be mistaken for food. Potpourri that looks and smells good is one example. Faux fruit and gingerbread houses are others. Someone with dementia might not be able to distinguish artificial from real and may become ill from eating them.
We hope these tips help you and your loved ones enjoy a safe and festive holiday season this year!
Do you have any holiday safety tips for caregivers in Colorado?
Please share them in the comments below!