Making this Independence Day a family event with someone who has Alzheimer's or another form of dementia? Whether you're celebrating big-time or just looking to be quietly festive together on the Fourth, these tips can help.
The Fourth of July is, without doubt, one of our noisiest holidays. Parades, pool parties and, of course, fireworks are the order of the day. If you have a parent with dementia, however, you know that these big noisy events can have a disastrous effect as they try to cope with all the excitement and people coming and going.
With a little planning and some special consideration, however, your mom or dad can remain calm and truly enjoy the day. Here are five tips that will help:
Keep chaos to a minimum. Try to keep to normal routines as much as possible. If he or she takes a nap at 3:00, or watches television at 4:30, stick with that schedule. It will keep them calmer and help preserve their energy levels.
If you are having an outdoor party, keep your loved away from the center of the action. If possible, find a quiet, cool area off to one side. If that’s not possible, invite family members to go inside, in very small groups to visit.
Let your parent help with simple things like putting napkins on the table, or setting out plates of food. Keep the tasks small and meaningful. Allow them to take short rests or to retire to a quieter area as noise levels rise.
Be mindful of “Sundown Syndrome”, that anxiety inducing time after sundown as evening sets in. The Fourth of July is a holiday that transitions from afternoon into the night, as everyone eagerly awaits the dark and the fireworks that come with it. Make sure the inside of your home is well lit, even if most of the action is taking place outdoors. Your mom or dad will feel more comfortable with lighting. Take notice of his or her levels of anxiety and take proper steps to avoid over stimulation.
Be very careful exposing your mom or dad to backyard fireworks or taking them to a park with a fireworks display. Loud noises, the darkness and the excited voices of those around them can create a “perfect storm” for anxiety. If fireworks are on the agenda, arrange for someone to stay home and inside with your parent or do so yourself. It is a small price to pay to keep them (and you) calm.
By taking time to prepare your day in advance, you will find yourself able to provide family, friends and yourself with a festive, enjoyable Fourth of July celebration, while keeping your mom or dad feeling safe and comfortable at all times.
Memory Matters Utah/Nevada wishes you a happy and safe Independence Day Holiday! Our office will be closed on July 4th and July 5th.