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Do’s and Don’ts for Holiday Decorating with Alzheimer’s or Dementia Residents

By Heather Brown
November 20, 2015

Do Clear the Path!

Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia already experience problems with balance. These changes in gait already present an increased fall risk. So as you decorate, be sure to keep the pathways clear to minimize risk.

Don’t Over-Stimulate!

Those residents living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s can easily be agitated by too much noise or overstimulation. Make sure to have a quiet area set up for those residents to prevent them from becoming overwhelmed and increasing a risk of wandering or other risky behaviors.

Do Avoid Animated Décor!

Although festive and fun for most of us, a person with Alzheimer’s or Dementia may find the flashing lights, movement, and sound of animated decorations disorienting or even frightening. It is best to avoid these types of decorations or at least limit them to areas that your residents do not access.

Don’t Decorate with Faux Food!

Ornaments that look like sugary fruit or gingerbread men may confuse an Alzheimer’s resident and create a risk for choking or poisoning. Avoid any decorations that look good enough to eat because they just might try.

Do Offer Empathy!

The holidays may be a difficult time for those with Dementia or Alzheimer’s as they deal with the confusion and disorientation. Some residents may have a difficult time with any decorations and may require some special consideration. You may need to take some decorations down if they are too much for your residents, or not decorate at all, if it creates an issue. What is most important is the health and well-being of your residents, and your empathy will go a long way in helping them through the season.

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