Q. My mom is starting to show signs of dementia and is embarrassed about her forgetfulness. How can I make the holidays more enjoyable for all of us?
Holidays provoke memories, which can be especially powerful in the later years of life. Older people whose memories are impaired may have difficulty remembering recent events, but they are often able to share stories and observations from the past.
These shared memories are important for the young as well — children enjoy hearing about how it was "when your parents were your age…" Use picture albums, family videos and music, even theme songs from old radio or TV programs to help stimulate memories and encourage older seniors to share their stories and experiences.
If she tires easily or is vulnerable to over-stimulation, limit the number of activities she is involved in. The noise and confusion of a large family gathering can lead to irritability or exhaustion, so schedule time for a nap, if necessary, and consider designating a "quiet room" where she can take a break. Assign someone to be the day's companion to her, to make sure she is comfortable.