It’s St. Patrick’s Day and since you’re likely staying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, here are a few ways to celebrate. Celebrating holidays can be challenging for seniors living with dementia and while they may not celebrate in the same ways as they used to, there are still many creative ways to create meaning and purpose (which equals success!).
- Celebrate with Songs
Research suggests that signing songs or listening to music can reduce stress, anxiety and depression for those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. While other key areas of the brain are damaged from the disease, musical memories remain relatively intact. Even if singing isn’t for you, leverage technology to stream music from your tv or mobile device.
Some well-known Irish songs include “Wild Irish Rose,” “When Irish Eyes are Smiling,” and “Danny Boy.”
- Bake an Irish Treat
Baking together is an activity that offers both tactile and emotive benefits. The smells and tastes can quickly transport the mind back to childhood memories. The activity can be easily adapted for any stage of dementia, such as instructing to mix ingredients, or even just kneading some dough. You don’t have be an expert baker, or even end up with a “perfect” treat… focus on the enjoyment of being together in the moment.
- Create Festive Art
Art can take many forms from crafting or drawing to writing a poem -- and many mediums in between. Even if you have never considered yourself an artist, we challenge you to get in touch with your creative side. Many experts believe that art therapy can aid those living with dementia express themselves, especially when language becomes a challenge. Research also suggests that art therapy can elevate mood, increase cognition and reduce agitation. Here are some art projects you can do at home:
- Painting – popular St. Patrick’s Day themes include rainbows, shamrocks, leprechauns, and Irish landscapes à let the experience guide you
- Adult coloring pages – Here’s a link to a variety of pages that can suit any talent level
- Paper crafting – create a festive shamrock banner or make greeting cards
Finally, here are two final tips for not only St. Patrick’s Day, but any upcoming holiday.
Try Not to Over-Decorate
Flashing lights and bulky decorative displays can cause disorientation and confusion. Avoid hazards such as lit candles as well as decorations that might be mistaken for edible treats, such as wax or plastic fruit, or decorative glass marbles.
Slow Down and Enjoy
Although most of us enjoy the cheerfulness of holiday music, gatherings, and meal preparation, it all adds up to noise, which can cause overstimulation. For a person with dementia, environment can be everything.
Try to create an environment that is as calming as possible. Make sure they have plenty of places to relax and sit down. Schedule the day in a way that gives your loved one time to rest as well as engage with others.
For more tips on how to celebrate with a loved one who is living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or for further information about our unique Memory Care Communities please contact CERTUS Premier Memory Care Living at marketing@CERTUSseniorliving.com or by calling (407) 757-7597.