How to Make Thanksgiving Safer and More Enjoyable For Your Elderly Loved One

November 22, 2021 | BY PHS Staff

From toning down decorations to limiting party sizes, there are many ways you can make sure your elderly loved one with dementia has a safe and happy Thanksgiving this year. Senior home care in Martinsburg can help with preparations leading up to the holiday, such as prepping meals, doing laundry and attending to personal hygiene needs. It’s important that your elderly parent, spouse or other loved one can give thanks right alongside their family members and friends on November 25.

But facing large gatherings and loud get-togethers can be intimidating and confusing to seniors, especially if they are suffering from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Here’s how you can limit these distractions and ensure they enjoy their Turkey Day!

Be Flexible

As your loved one’s family caregiver, you know them better than anyone else and how much they can tolerate in terms of what makes them feel scared and uncomfortable, says Dementia Care Central. Listen to those instincts and make changes where necessary. You may love those big parties that you’ve always hosted at your house, but this year you may have to make some compromises by limiting the amount of guests and the duration of the party. Or, you may have to make arrangements for your loved one to return home when things get too overwhelming. Another option is to have a small Thanksgiving lunch at your elder’s home so they can eat with family and then rest as evening approaches.

This is helpful for those with dementia who tend to get agitated in the evenings (sundowning), so a brunch or early lunch is best.

Plan Dementia-Friendly Activities

Incorporate simple, repetitive tasks into the day:

  • Have them don an apron and help you stir the stuffing.
  • Encourage them to draw or color turkeys and other Thanksgiving themes with their grandchildren.
  • Bake cookies and pies together.
  • Put on music that they love.
  • Tell each other what you are thankful for.
  • Watch the parade together.

Create a Safe Environment

  • Keep the decorations to a minimum. Stay away from blinking lights and large decorative displays that may instill confusion, and avoid any clutter that would require you to have to rearrange a familiar room, suggests the Mayo Clinic.
  • Avoid safety hazards. Don’t use burning candles; instead, use electric or battery operated candles. If you do light any candles, never leave them unattended. Don’t place fragile decorations or those that could easily be mistaken for edible treats, like a bowl of fake fruit or a cornucopia.
  • Play their favorite music. Familiar holiday music is comforting to seniors. Find out what they like, and tune to their favorite station. Just don’t put the volume up too loud.

Prep Holiday Visitors

You may want to prepare the other family members and friends who will be joining you for the Thanksgiving celebration. Letting them know what to expect will help them adjust their behavior to your senior loved one with dementia. You can:

  • Give them an update beforehand. Let them know ahead of time if there have been any changes in behavior or memory loss since they last saw them. You may want to text them a recent photo of your loved one to prepare them for any drastic changes in appearance.
  • Suggest communication tips. Recommend that guests listen patiently, without interrupting or criticizing. They shouldn’t correct them or use loud voices.
  • Plan activities. Notify guests of planned activities or suggest an activity they may want to bring with them, such as a photo album for reminiscing.

Keeping your senior safe and happy this Thanksgiving just takes a little preparation!

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

Our senior care services can ensure the safety of your elderly loved one as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. Please contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500 to learn more about our in-home care in Martinsburg and how we can be especially helpful during the holidays.