New Year’s Eve with a loved one who has memory loss can feel a little different.
The room is full of conversation and cheer. Family and friends chatter excitedly about the passing year and all their hopes and dreams for the coming one. There’s dancing, drinking, and a popper or firework here and there.
Everyone’s eager for the ball to drop and the new year to ring in…except…Mom or Dad.
Some of us have experienced a holiday where Mom or Dad seemed suddenly distant, disengaged, or even agitated. For you, maybe it was this year.
Fireworks. Loud music. Drinking and dancing. These are some of the ways people celebrate the holidays. However, these common forms of celebrating can reveal some early signs of a loved one experiencing memory loss. Noise can create confusion and agitation in someone with dementia, and alcohol, a depressant, worsens cognitive impairment. In addition, how can someone celebrate New Year’s when memory loss has them not quite sure what day it is, or what year?
Fortunately, with a little creativity and adaptive thinking, it’s possible to begin understanding and still celebrate New Year’s with a loved one experiencing memory loss. Or, even begin a family conversation about the need to transition a loved one to memory care.
Here are a few ways to make your loved one more comfortable and begin conversations about the importance of exceptional memory care.
- Value Tradition. Seniors love traditions, and for those experiencing memory loss, the importance of maintaining this continuity is paramount. Celebrating the holidays in a familiar place and with your traditional activities, events, and meals can be comforting to those beginning to struggle with their memory and recall. Reminiscing through photo albums and stories is a central theme in Reminiscence Therapy, a powerful memory care treatment.
- Prepare a Tried-and-True Menu. When it comes to cooking for seniors with memory loss, again familiarity can be therapeutic. Serving dishes and treats that are traditional for your family gatherings can draw your loved one into your celebration.
- Celebrate New Year’s Around the World. Many seniors won’t be able to stay awake until midnight — and why should they? It’s already midnight somewhere. Nighttime parties aren’t a good idea for those with memory impairment anyway, due to sundown syndrome. So why not celebrate with a New Year’s brunch instead. Often this time is more accommodating for extended family and younger grandchildren and is sure to be much more enjoyable for your loved one with memory loss.
- Ring in the New Year with a Sing-Along. Music Therapy, a favorite at Kensington Place, is one of the most healing therapies for people with dementia because it accesses a deeper, emotional part of the brain that remembers music from long ago.
You might take a tip from Sally Magnusson, founder of Playlist for Life, to help those caring for residents with dementia create “the soundtrack to their life”. So far, the charity has trained more than 4,600 health care providers in how to use music playlists to help people with memory loss re-engage.
Find the top songs from residents’ youth. Many milestone memories are anchored between the ages of 10 and 30. Playlist for Life even created a list of the most popular songs of the last century to assist caregivers and family members in finding appropriate selections.
- Start Discussing Memory Care. Memory loss is something that needs loving adaptation and management for both your loved one and your family. Exceptional memory care can greatly improve quality of life, but it requires open and honest family discussions about care and planning to provide continuing, phased care.
- Develop A Commitment Contract. A creative alternative to resolutions, which may be difficult for those with memory loss to make or keep, a New Year’s commitment contract invites a senior’s family members and friends to agree to certain activities throughout the year, such as coming to Kensington Place to join you for dinner once a week, or bringing the grandkids to visit at least once a month. The agreement will give your loved one something to look forward to as the new year begins.
Welcoming in the New Year at Kensington Place
At Kensington Place, we’re memory care specialists, offering more comprehensive services than other senior living communities in the area.
We have the experience and expertise to support those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, including those with extremely high care needs — all at our beautiful Redwood City enhanced assisted living community.
Our two distinct memory care neighborhoods are customized to meet memory care residents where they are on their life journey. This approach allows each resident to receive a spectrum of relevant and appropriate care.
- Connections serves seniors in the early to mid-stage of Alzheimer’s and dementia care, who show increasing signs of memory loss. Our goal in Connections is providing a secure environment to maximize safety while helping residents remain independently engaged in activities that give meaning and purpose to their days.
- Haven is a soothing, peaceful neighborhood for middle to late-stage Alzheimer’s and dementia residents who require a higher level of assistance and care. With adaptive design features (painted walls and doors, motion sensors, specially designed carpet, memory boxes) to help with recognition and minimize confusion, we’re able to provide maximum safety while enabling memory care residents to engage in ways that are meaningful, soothing, and pleasing for them.
The sister of one resident shared, “Kensington Place is simply the best! My brother has been a resident for eight months, and after a short adjustment period, he has thrived. With excellent care and food management, he is off insulin and his medication has been lowered. He is happy, safe and loved by staff and management.
“You can feel the warmth as you enter the facility. My husband and I feel totally content and reassured that he is being very well taken care of and we now have peace of mind that we didn’t have before. We highly recommend anyone whose loved one needs 24-hour care to come here.”
We look forward to meeting you in the New Year and showing you why Kensington Place may be the answer you’ve been seeking for your loved one.
Additional Recommended Reading:
- You’re Holiday Shopping Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- How to Handle the Holidays When Your Loved One Has Memory Loss
- 10 Fun Activities to Do When the Grandchildren Come and Visit
- Game On! Board Games Can Be More Than Just Good Fun
- Mixed Dementia – What Is It?
- Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Resources