23 Nov Holidays Together
‘Tis the Season for Family Gatherings
At our Dementia Together SPECAL® (pronounced “speckle”) classes and workshops, we discuss how loved ones with dementia sometimes withdraw or become agitated during family gatherings. The assumption is often made, “it’s just part of the disease.” At Dementia Together, we agree: Withdrawal or expressions of agitation are part of dis-ease. The dis-ease of trying to navigate life surrounded by people using common sense. The dis-ease of having no ONE person in a ‘We-relationship’ with them using what we call “SPECAL-sense” to ensure a feeling of security without the demand of having to “know” what has happened or been said just moments before.
We suggest one simple SPECAL strategy during family gatherings: Assign 10-30 minute time slots in which ONE person is in a ‘We-relationship’ with your loved one. For that time, the assigned family member is available to engage in conversation about your loved person’s favorite topics, watch a show together, laugh together, sing together, figure out together why Uncle Joe is dancing on the table, rest together, walk together, or look at old books or photos together–without quizzing. The assigned family member is the ONE person ready and available without questions or contradictions with eye contact and a “we’re in this together” feeling. When the time slot ends for one, a new family member can glide into position in the ‘we-relationship’ while the other evaporates out. This simple strategy not only helps your loved one feel like a LOVED one, it also offers everyone in the family time to savor moments of joy with someone for whom being forgotten is a far greater risk than forgetting.
“Just because facts aren’t recalled doesn’t mean moments aren’t significant.”
Cyndy Hunt Luzinski, MS, RN, SPECAL Practitioner, Founder and Executive Director
Other holiday visiting tips will follow in the next blog.