I’ve seen many articles this week about preparing pets for the often loud Fourth of July celebrations. It is true that some animals have a severe reaction to the booming blasts of fireworks, so it’s best to keep them indoors and monitor for signs of stress. I feel fortunate that my current crew (one dog, two cats) don’t seem to be bothered much by fireworks.
But the advice made me consider another group who many be overwhelmed by this weekend’s festivities: people with dementia. The noise, the lights, extra people in the house … it can be challenging for someone with dementia.
Here are some dementia caregiving tips on how to navigate the holiday:
Remain flexible: If you are taking your loved one to a public fireworks display or parade, be aware of how your loved one is faring and if you see signs of discomfort or stress, be prepared to leave early.
Keep celebrations small and low-key: An intimate dinner or small barbecue with a select group of people can help keep your loved one with dementia from feeling overwhelmed. Hosting at your home means that if your loved one wishes to retire early, they can do so with ease.
Find fun ways to celebrate: Just because you are stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Indulge in a favorite meal, play festive music, dance, or watch a favorite movie. Take time to connect in simple ways.
Don’t feel guilty if things don’t go as planned: Those with dementia can have good and bad days, and it can be hard to predict what mood they will be in at any given moment. If an event or gathering proves too much for them, don’t be too hard on yourself. Once your loved one is comfortable again in a safe environment, take a moment for yourself. Learning from our mistakes is key in being a successful caregiver.
I was enjoying some watermelon this morning and it reminded me of a funny story from my mother’s childhood. The family was gathered around, enjoying slices of watermelon when one of my mother’s older siblings warned the others to be careful not to swallow a watermelon seed, otherwise they’d grow a watermelon baby inside their tummy.
While the rest of the family got the joke, my mother did not. She began to worry that she had accidentally swallowed a watermelon seed. She became upset enough that she went to her mother who set the record straight and assured her there were no dangers of melon babies. Nowadays, kids could just Google it or ask Alexa.
The extreme and unusual heat wave that struck parts of the U.S. and Canada recently serves as a reminder to check in on our elder loved ones and make sure they have sufficient relief from the summer heat. Here in the Deep South, we tend to take air conditioning as a standard necessity, but other parts of the country that typically have moderate summer temperatures don’t always have AC units. I learned that the hard way at my parents’ condo in New Mexico. Even with a modern, high-powered fan, it was miserable. While it was merely uncomfortable for me, for those who are older or with certain health conditions, the heat can be life-threatening.
I hope you have a peaceful and pleasant Fourth of July and get to spend time with loved ones.
Hope you and your loved ones have a safe holiday weekend.
In addition to Fourth of July, Monday is my mother’s birthday. She would have been 83 years old. Mom served briefly in the Navy, but the lessons she learned helped shape the rest of her life. She valued her time in the Navy and supported those who served. I’m grateful that Mom saved all of her Navy memorabilia, so I have everything from photos to newspaper clippings to her class notebooks.
I’ll be thinking about Mom this weekend and all of those who have served their country, whether in the military or through volunteer work as civilians.
A good reminder that not everyone reacts well to fireworks, including people with dementia. (This can also apply to people with autism and pets, among other groups.) Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!
As if sundowning weren’t a challenge for those with dementia and their caregivers we add fireworks to the mix on July 4th each year. A person who once loved fireworks may respond differently now. For someone with dementia, the loud pops and explosions can trigger memories of wartime experiences causing a return or worsening of […]
My parents made the mistake of taking me to a fireworks display when I was about two and I bawled my head off the whole time. As I got older, my love of loud noises didn’t grow, but my fascination with the colorful light display in the sky was enough to make me forget about the noise that accompanied them.
Most years, we attended the local fireworks event that suburban towns have, usually in a park or in the athletic field of the high school. It was a semi-professional affair. There was a lot of waiting around, and then finally, the crowd’s necks turned towards the sky. There were plenty of duds which earned groans from the crowd. My favorite part was the ending, where it seemed the fireworks crew threw up whatever was remaining, creating an interesting and unpredictable mix of colors and patterns.
When I was very young, Dad would put me on top of his shoulders so I could be that much closer to the sky. Then I had my fear of heights and loud noises to contend with!