And so we reach that time of year again; the streets are sparkling with the twinkle of lights, windows are glittering with giant baubles and the air is filled with a sense of love and joyfulness that brings families together from near or far. For most people, Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year, but for the more vulnerable members of the community it can bring unwelcome feelings of loneliness and trepidation – especially if they rely on the support of a carer or loved one to help them with their day-to-day routines.
If your loved one is receiving some extra support this Christmas and you want to be able to enjoy the festivities with them, we’ve put together a few activities that you can do to make the most of the festive season with your family. It may be that you’d like to take your loved one out for the day but you need to find somewhere with more accessibility, or perhaps they are unable to leave the house but you want to make this Christmas extra special for them. Whatever it is you have planned this Christmas, make the most of this year’s festivities with the people who really matter to you.
Watch old family videos
Watching old family videos is a really good way to engage with your loved one – especially if they are living with a cognitive condition such as dementia. The on-screen memories can be a really great way to stimulate your loved one’s mind – you could even gather a collection of videos and have a mini-marathon with them.
Bake homemade Christmas treats
What does Christmas smell like? Well, some of the things that spring to our mind straight away are cinnamon, winter spice and gingerbread, but did you know that our sense of smell can trigger strong emotions and happy memories from the past? Baking a Christmas treat in the kitchen with your loved one can not only be a fun activity for you both to enjoy together, but these strong scents can also take them back to a time that is comfortable and familiar to them – particularly if they are living with dementia. And when you’re done, you can sit down with your loved one and enjoy a tasty treat with a cup of tea – that’s one of the true joys of Christmas.
Visit a Christmas market
If your loved one is up for going out and about this Christmas, allow them to fully immerse themselves in the festive spirit with one of the many Christmas markets available in the UK. What’s more, lots of these Christmas markets are accessible to those who need extra support with their mobility, so that those who want to get involved in the festive spirit and enjoy a warming hot chocolate under the Christmas lights are able to do just that.
Make your own Christmas decorations
Whether it’s decorating a stocking, painting a snowman or creating your own Christmas cards for one another, making your own Christmas decorations with your loved one is a lovely opportunity to make Christmas extra special by adding your own personal touches. The great thing about Christmas crafts is that it doesn’t have to be too complicated, so if your loved one sometimes struggles with keeping their focus, you can still create something special without your loved one becoming overwhelmed. Why not make a paper snowflake for your tree, or write your family members names on some leaves from outside and create your own wreath together?
Singing along to Christmas songs
Music reaches different parts of the brain than language alone, so listening to music can be a really great way to effectively communicate and engage with your loved one – especially if they are living with one of the many variants of dementia. Music creates a gateway for your loved one to connect with you without feeling stressed or overwhelmed; lots of elderly people – particularly those living with dementia – can become stressed or agitated with communication if they are finding it difficult. Music will help your loved one to alleviate these anxieties and feel connected and involved.
There are lots of things for you and your family to enjoy together this Christmas – regardless of the circumstances. Whether your loved one is wheelchair dependent, living with a progressive condition or just anxious to leave the house, there’s no reason why this Christmas can’t be as special as any other.
And don’t forget, if you need support in any way with your loved one this Christmas, your dedicated Helping Hands carer is always on hand to help. Whatever it is you need to make this Christmas special, we’re here for you.