You know that it is the 4th of July when the nation comes together – friends, relatives, and neighbors – to attend street fairs, barbecues, parades, and fireworks in celebration of our nation’s birth. However, among the partying citizens, adults who have Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia may struggle with anxiety caused by the noise and lights of fireworks. The adult may become distressed by the commotion and even wander off to seek a quieter place. So how can one protect their loved ones and cater an Independence Day celebration for dementia?
Keep Gatherings Small and Familiar
Sometimes it is not the exposure to flashing lights from fireworks that trigger anxiety for adults with dementia; oftentimes the mass of unfamiliar faces at a large party will be stressful for them as well. If you plan to hold an Independence Day party, keep the gathering small and limit it to people who your loved one is familiar with, as much as possible. This can help them feel more at ease.
Ensure Your Guests are Aware
Keep your guests up to speed on your loved one’s condition so that they can accommodate them. If your guest list includes people who are unfamiliar with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, you can pass them informative links to read and understand the disease prior to the party.
Choose a Suitable Time of Day for Your Celebration
As a caregiver of someone with dementia, you might be attuned to your loved ones’ best and worst times of the day. For example, it is common for adults with Alzheimer’s to experience sundowner’s syndrome, making the late afternoon to early evening a difficult time for them. Avoid picking such timings in order to minimize the risk of overwhelming your loved ones. A nice, afternoon picnic where the holiday can be celebrated over lunch is just as good as an after-dark celebration.
Set Up a Place to Retreat To
Adults with dementia are typically influenced by their environment. Even if you limit the size of your gathering, your loved one may still become overwhelmed and require a break from the festivities. Therefore, it is recommended to have a peaceful place for them to retreat to if things get too stressful. This can be a place in your house tucked away from the commotion where they can feel safe. A set of noise-canceling headphones or soft music may help to calm them down as well.
Prepare Alternative Activities
On top of having a quiet environment to rest in, you can also provide your loved ones with alternative activities to enjoy. Repetitive tasks such as sorting buttons or tying knots in a rope are calming activities for adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia. You can also decorate their space with old family pictures; the presence of familiar faces and objects will help to relax them. If you intend to engage in an activity with them here, try embarking on a simple arts and crafts project or a board game like Monopoly. This can be a meaningful time for the two of you to bond.