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How to Have a Great 4th of July with Your Loved One with Dementia

July 2, 2019
Categories: Holidays

For many families, the Fourth of July holiday not only symbolizes a time to acknowledge our country’s independence but also an occasion to celebrate family. It’s a fun holiday – vibrant, loud, and colorful – and often a festive nod to the enthusiasm for scheduling time together.

This July, holiday traditions might include lining up along city streets to view a patriotic parade, attending an evening fireworks display, or hosting a backyard barbecue. Regardless of your family’s yearly ritual, it is possible to enjoy your festive Fourth of July celebration with a loved one living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Use the following strategies for holiday planning to ensure everyone on your guest list enjoys a successful celebration.

Include Your Loved Ones In The Planning

Allowing your mom or dad to participate in the planning process for the festivity recognizes their importance in the family as well as acknowledges them as a host, a role they likely played for much of their life. Ask them to perform meaningful and small tasks ahead of time and on the day of the party, such as helping to plan the menu, identifying guests to invite, folding napkins, arranging the centerpiece, or crafting patriotic snacks using watermelon and blueberries.

Be thoughtful when asking for help, and keep it fun and collaborative. It’s important not to overwhelm your loved one with tasks.

Honor their Routine

Those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia find routine comforting. This means planning your holiday celebration around their schedule. Consider timing your party to begin after they’ve taken their midday nap and end prior to the timing of their favorite TV show.

Alternatively, find a quiet spot in your house for your loved one to follow their familiar daily routine without interruption. It’s also important to remind your guests to observe this quiet zone.

Understand How Your Loved One Experiences Sound

Your loved one is likely sensitive to sound. This includes loud or sudden noises, such as a public fireworks display, which may frighten them. Plus, Fourth of July celebrations tend to be noisy, with sounds that compete for their attention, such as children playing, rock music, multiple conversations, and, of course, bright fireworks. Noise might heighten their anxiety, requiring you to calm your mom or dad.

When planning your party, acknowledge your loved one’s effort to distinguish and manage noise by creating a positive sound environment. This could include choosing a playlist that offers music from artists they enjoy or seating them near an open window. Use natural sounds, such as birds, water, and wind, to counter noises that create discomfort.

Avoid The Evening Hours

Fireworks are often a part of Fourth of July party planning, but these flashy displays can overwhelm your loved one living with dementia. These events also take place during evening hours, which can intensify the anxiety or disorientation they already feel at the end of the day.

Consider purchasing your own fireworks and setting them off on the street in front of your house during daylight hours. Your loved one can sit a comfortable distance from the sound and chaos of fireworks and feel included in the family fun.

By creating a dementia-friendly environment for your Fourth of July celebration, everyone on your guest list will enjoy your gathering. You’ll have the opportunity to create new memories, and spending this quality time with your parent will be your reward.

To learn more about the benefits of specialized memory care, contact Artis Senior Living today.

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