I love Christmas. It is a time of great jollity. I don't even mind the fact that all the seasonal goods are in the shops from October onwards. I can't get enough of the glittering lights, and the reminders of years gone by. I remember a particular pair of multicoloured slippers that I got from Santa Claus when I was nine years old. Every year I find myself looking out for the same pair.
But Christmas can be really tough when you are affected by dementia, either when you are living with it, or if someone you care for is affected. Everything takes longer and is hard work. Christmas cards arrive and you are not sure who they are from, or whether you should send one. How do you decide about presents and visits? What are you going to do about food or special meals?
All the usual hints that work for the rest of the year are worth considering now. Be aware that dementia can be exhausting, and so don't over do things. Having good company is brilliant, but noise and bustle can be very upsetting. What about timing visitors so the they come one or two at a time, rather than having to deal with a great crowd all at once?
With the temperatures falling outside, make sure the person stays warm enough without overheating. Being too hot or too cold can make the person uncomfortable and affect their thinking, without them realising that this is what is the matter. Automatic heating controls are really helpful, especially if the older person is cautious about running up heating bills. An ordinary bill can look enormous, if you have forgotten how inflation has increased prices (but also increased your pension a bit as well - so you can afford it.) Real fuel poverty and imagined fuel poverty are just as bad, if they mean allowing the person to get cold.
Over the next few weeks in the run up to Christmas I'm going to be making some practical suggestions about things that can make life easier.