The holidays can be particularly challenging when you have dementia symptoms. It is a busy season for most and with it comes family gatherings, travel and changes to normal, comfortable routines.

While these are joyful occasions to celebrate, they can cause a lot of stress for someone who is memory impaired. Additionally, it can create unexpected challenges for those who care for them. Here are five tips to navigate the holiday season as a caregiver.

Make a list and check it twice: Whether you’re traveling a short distance or many miles, it’s important to travel with everything you need in case an emergency arises. Make a list of things like important medical documents, records and medications, and then use this as a checklist for packing when traveling.

Keep a routine in place: It’s not always possible to keep a normal daily routine in place during the holiday season, but it helps to keep things as routine as possible. Keep important daily routines like mealtime in place to minimize disruption. If you’re able to, travel to your loved one instead of requiring them to travel to you so that they are in familiar surroundings.

Plan in advance: If you have a pre-arranged travel itinerary, take the time to reach out to airlines and hotels to let them know that you’ll be traveling with someone with dementia. Thankfully, it is becoming more common for companies to be prepared for this and they can help make your travel experience more comfortable.

Have compassion and patience: If you are just beginning on your caregiving journey, you will soon learn that the unexpected is the new normal. Try to remain flexible and patient without setting expectations of how the days should go to create a low-stress environment for everyone.

Embrace the joyful moments:The holiday season is chock-full of opportunities to experience joyful moments. Things like favorite holiday songs and family traditions can be big sources of joy for someone whose memory is impaired, and often sparks happy and fond memories. Don’t forget to look for and experience these simple moments of happiness to make this time of the year a wonderful one.

One of best ways to make the holiday season more comfortable is to understand what they may be experiencing. This is what becoming Dementia Aware is all about!

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