Christmas can be a tough time for those suffering from dementia. (File photo)

Christmas can be a tough time for those suffering from dementia. (File photo)

Alzheimer’s Society helping Okanagan residents prepare for the holidays

Webinars look at new challenges COVID-19 brings and how that affects those with dementia

The winter season brings along with it many different festivals and holidays and, for many Okanagan residents, socializing with family, friends and our wider community. The current COVID-19 situation is presenting new challenges and uncertainty to what can be an already stressful time – a feeling that is even more acute for people affected by dementia in the area.

Remembering a grandchild’s name, being included in group conversations or visiting a new place are all experiences that may challenge a person living with the disease and affect their experience of the holidays. To increase awareness and provide strategies to help local caregivers and people living with dementia prepare for the holidays during COVID-19, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is offering two free webinars this month.

“The holidays can present difficulties for people living with dementia for a multitude of reasons,” Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s provincial coordinator Carly Gronlund said. “Large groups of people, different activities happening at the same time, background noise, unfamiliar places and visual stimulus like flickering candles – these factors can all easily lead to sensory overload for a person living with dementia.”

This year’s holiday gatherings will undoubtedly look different and that uncertainty can add additional challenges for people living with dementia, caregivers, family members and friends.

READ MORE: Vernon author documents dementia journey

In the first of the two webinars, caregivers will learn how to adapt their plans to minimize stress during the holiday season. This one-hour session will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. and will provide strategies on several topics, including gift giving and visiting in care.

The second session will be the first of the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s new ‘Lived experience’ webinar series which is created by people with lived experience of the disease. In this webinar, on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 2 p.m., two people living with dementia will share the impact of COVID-19 on their preparations for this holiday season. This session will focus on the experience that people living with dementia have and explore why it looks different, including the differences for someone who lives with a partner compared to someone who lives alone in the community.

“It’s important to understand what a person may find challenging so that we can adapt accordingly. Even small changes can make a big difference and ensure everyone has the best holiday experience possible,” Gronlund said.

The Society hosts free dementia education webinars every week for anyone affected by dementia or interested in learning more. Other upcoming webinars include:

  • Virtual visits: Making the most of video calling (Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2 p.m.): Explore strategies to maximize success when video calling.
  • Long-distance caregiving (Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2 p.m.): Practical tips on providing meaningful caregiving support from a distance. For caregivers.
  • Driving and dementia (Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2 p.m.): Learn how dementia may affect a person’s driving abilities and strategies to ease the transition for driving cessation. For caregivers and people living with dementia.

To register for any of these webinars, visit alzbc.org/webinars.

READ MORE: Care home restrictions break Lake Country couple’s heart


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