5 Holiday Decorating Tips for Alzheimer’s Family Caregivers

holiday-decoratingMany families enjoy the tradition of decorating together for Christmas or Hanukkah. Decking the halls with lights and sparkle is often the official kick off to the holiday season. However, if a senior loved one who has dementia recently moved in with you, some types of holiday decorations can present safety risks. To help Michigan family caregivers safely deck the halls this year, we are sharing a few tips from our memory care specialists.

Five Holiday Decorating Safety Tips for those with Alzheimer’s Disease

  1. Keep Pathways Clear. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, it creates problems with balance that can lead to an unsteady gait. Make sure your holiday décor doesn’t obstruct the paths your senior loved one uses most often. Also remember to keep extension cords you may have set up for light decorations taped down or otherwise secured. Both of these safety tips can help prevent falls.
  2. Avoid Flashing Lights. Many holiday decorations come with lighting of some kind. While twinkle lights on the tree or flashing lights on holiday decorations might look pretty, they can be disorienting for someone with dementia. Instead, choose lights that stay on and don’t blink or flash.
  3. Supervision around Candles. One of your family’s common holiday traditions may be lighting the menorah or an advent wreath together. Be sure to supervise your loved one while a flame is lit. In other areas of the house, consider replacing real candles with ones that are electric or battery operated.
  4. Animated Holiday Decorations. For someone living with dementia, animated decorations can be frightening, especially if they talk or sing. Even a life-size manger scene might cause anxiety. Try to stick with more natural décor and pay close attention to your loved one’s reactions to decorations this year.
  5. Watch the Noise. Lots of noise and confusion can lead to agitation and wandering for someone who lives with Alzheimer’s disease. If you can’t avoid a noisy household, have a quiet room set up that your senior loved one can retreat to when the volume goes up.

For more information on caregiving for an Alzheimer’s loved one during the holidays, visit the Alzheimer’s Education Caregiver Holiday Tips online at the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.