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12 Ways to Give Kindness to Dementia Patients This Holiday Season & Year Round

Submitted by Guest Contributor:
Ginger Abbot

Holiday cheer turns the winter season into the best time of year. Everyone’s looking for creative ways to be kind, but that kindness often only extends to the people in their lives. Everyone deserves a surprise that makes them feel seen and cared for, like people with memory loss. This guide will teach you how the community can give kindness to people with dementia and spread more holiday joy.

1 Contact Local Care Facilities

Contact your local care facilities when you’re looking for ways to share kindness. There are always ways to help them become better environments for residents and caregivers. When they don’t have to worry about maintaining supplies or searching for volunteers, they’ll have more energy to devote to the residents that love them like family.

They might also have specific needs that matter more than a randomly chosen gift or donation. Sometimes they have enough volunteers to entertain patients but not enough help to clean the facility or plan events. See what your local facilities need to give them something that will mean more than anything else.

2 Make Their Favorite Meals

Most people have a favorite meal that warms their hearts. Care facilities have to make food that everyone can eat, so they may not make foods that patients ate with their families or during their childhoods. Ask the management staff or nurses if you can make any specific meals that residents wouldn’t normally get to make everyone happy over the holidays.

You might run into a problem with homemade food. The facility might not legally be allowed to accept food made off-site because they can’t guarantee the cleanliness of your kitchen or sanitary meal preparation. If that’s an issue, ask if you could make the meals in their facility kitchen to still provide culinary joy.

3 Offer Fresh Flower Arrangements

When someone loses their memories, sensory activities can become essential grounding tools. Dementia patients may enjoy flower arrangements more than ever because the aroma is so pleasant. Anyone can make bouquets by picking an arrangement shape and focal flowers, then deliver them in person. Patients will appreciate a visit instead of getting their flowers through the mail.

4 Ask What They Need

Long-term care facilities often need help. Ask what they need and volunteer your time. You could run errands to restock their office supplies or deliver holiday decorations. It’s an excellent way to give kindness to dementia patients this holiday season and year-round because your efforts will support their quality of life.

5 Donate Forms of Entertainment

Sometimes patients don’t get to see their family or friends often, so they have to pass the time by themselves or with the care facility employees. One of the easiest ways to give kindness all year is to provide fun things for them to do.

Community groups often donate gifts like toys to kids in need, but seniors want to pass the time with fun forms of entertainment too. Brain-stimulating games like puzzles might work for patients with less memory loss, but people with more severe cases could benefit from fidget toys or sensory games. They won’t need to retain information to stimulate their mind.

6 Upgrade Their Technology

If you’re wondering how the community can give kindness to people with dementia, think about researching new technology. Advancements could make their lives easier and give them some of the independence they lose as their memory retention weakens.

Date Time Clock
Available on Amazon

Clocks that display the date and time help dementia patients ground themselves in the present without asking for help. You could also donate webcams or tablets so they can see their loved ones over video chat. These are just a few ways technology can make a patient’s environment support their independence.

7 Purchase New Books

People who are still in the early stages of dementia can still enjoy activities like reading. If they were an avid reader throughout their life, they’ll still appreciate new books. Ask a care facility if they have any readers and if they know what genres those patients prefer. Donate books like mysteries, romances and dramas to help those patients feel more like themselves in a place that might not feel like home yet.

8 Become a Chauffeur

Family members and friends might wish they could visit their loved ones with dementia more often, but complicated work or school schedules might prevent that. They might also struggle with transportation because they rely on bus schedules that don’t stop near where their loved ones live.

You could donate your time by shuttling those people from their shared workplaces to the care facility. It’s one of the easiest ways to share kindness because each visit will mean so much to everyone involved. People who work multiple jobs or have time-consuming responsibilities will always appreciate free rides throughout the year.

9 Bake Holiday Desserts

The holidays wouldn’t be the same without icing sugar cookies or making fancy desserts. Care centers might not have the time or budget to go all out with seasonal sweets, so bake some for their residents. Management teams can give you ideas of what their residents would most enjoy and advise you to skip ingredients that would otherwise trigger their allergies.

10 Schedule a Caroling Session

Dementia patients often reconnect with the present through music, so caroling could mean more to them than anything else. Help them relive their favorite memories and get more out of the season by stopping by with a few friends who can sing. Anyone looking for ways to give kindness all year can also put on a show during the warmer months. Select songs that the patients may have heard on the radio or owned on vinyl to make any show mean more for them.

11 Hang Holiday Decorations

Care center staff members have so much to do every day. They might struggle to hang holiday decorations before the holidays pass. Offer to stop by and hang Christmas lights in common areas or set up Hanukkah decorations in patients’ rooms. If you know which holidays patients celebrate with their families, you can tailor each decoration to their religions or seasonal preferences.

12 Give Something to Caregivers

It’s always a great idea to do something for dementia patients, but people often take caregivers for granted. People assume that because they earn a living by taking care of patients, they don’t need attention or help.

If you offer your time or ask what they need, they’ll get a burst of holiday joy or year-round encouragement. The employees will also take that positive energy back to their work. Patients who have happier caregivers will become happier too.

Ask what they need help with and donate your time, finances or supplies. When you want to give them a surprise, you could deliver flowers or staff-wide presents. Check the rules for the specific facility or applicable laws where you live. It might be illegal to give even a letter to only one employee, but staff-wide donations are often acceptable.

Consider Ways to Share Kindness

There are so many ways people can learn how the community can give kindness to people with dementia. Consider these ideas to spread joy this holiday season and whenever you want to do something good. Whether you work with friends, donate supplies or give more of your time, the patients and staff will feel cared for and appreciated.

About the Author: Ginger Abbot

Ginger Abbot

Ginger Abbot is a career and lifestyle writer.

Read more of her work on the learning publication Classrooms.





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