Thanksgiving weekend!

Thanksgiving weekend!

I have always enjoyed the holidays because it is a chance for me to spend quality time with my whole family. I particularly enjoy the  copious amounts of delicious food prepared for our Thanksgiving meal. My grandmother was always the centre of our family gatherings by bringing everyone together and even preparing the large meals. Family gatherings during the holidays were the first time my dad and aunt started to notice the changes in my grandmother that led them to take her to a doctor to get a diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease. If you are worried about a parent or grandparent’s health, the holidays are a great time to take a moment to do a check in with your elderly family member. Take a look at the Alzheimer Society’s tip sheet on signs to look for when you go home for the holidays.

Our family continued to maintain a normal routine to assist my grandmother in living well with dementia. But as my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s disease progressed, these treasured family meals began to cause her anxiety. Dementia can impact mealtimes and habits, and this is something a caregiver must consider especially around holidays.

Large family gatherings, like a Thanksgiving meal, are not part of someone’s daily routine. Many people, added noise and different foods can lead to confusion for someone living with dementia.  The caregiver has a lot to consider making sure that the person with dementia eats a well-balanced diet and is properly hydrated, but also ensuring that meal times are an experience associated with pleasure and enjoyment.

Here are a few tips to improve meal times for someone living with dementia:

Look at the atmosphere where you will be eating the meal

  • Minimize distractions, such as by turning off the radio or television.
  • Provide a calm and unhurried atmosphere.
  • Avoid loud noises and abrupt movements.

Look at the table where you will be dining

  • Simplify the table and the setting.
  • Omit unnecessary utensils and condiments.
  • Provide a sharp colour contrast between table or placemat and her plate, but avoid strong patterns as they may cause confusion.

Consider the food that will be prepared

  • When possible, involve him in the food preparation.
  • Provide nutritious foods that can be taken from a cup or a mug: the ability to hold a mug and to drink is often retained until late in the disease.
  • Use food that is colourful and easily distinguishable on the plate.
  • Provide her favourite foods. Food that tastes and smells good may also serve as reminders of happier times.

Click here for more tips

Taking time to help improve environments that may cause anxiety will help to ensure a holiday meal is enjoyable for all in attendance.  Holidays are a time for family and friends and making sure all can take-part makes that holiday that much more memorable.


Audra Rusinas

Digital Media Coordinator

Granddaughter of someone with dementia

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