Lunar New Year 2022

Published On: January 27th, 2022Categories: News & Events
stylized illustration of tiger

Tips for Dementia Caregiving During the Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays in many Asian cultures and is celebrated by more than 1 billion people around the globe. In the Chinese zodiac, the upcoming year is the Year of the Tiger which is the third of the twelve animals on the Chinese calendar cycle. This year, February 1st marks the first day of this 15-day celebration. The traditions and customs may vary in different regions, but the goal is to welcome prosperity and fortune with your loved ones. Caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia may be challenging during this festive period. The added activities, traditions, and celebrations may change daily routines and the environment.  This may increase confusion and stress to the person living with dementia and lead to behavioral changes and/or mood swings.

As a caregiver/care partner, maintaining traditions while providing care can take a toll. Some common holiday tips can be found here, but today, we will share some tips that are specific for celebrating the Lunar New Year.

First, let the person living with dementia get involved in the preparation
Two of the most important Lunar New Year traditions are pre-New Year cleaning and the New Year’s Eve dinner. Encouraging the person living with dementia to participate in the preparation of these activities can make her/him feel included and engaged. It can also help her/him get more familiar with the upcoming festive season. Before involving the person living with dementia, consider her/his current abilities, think about what activities s/he may enjoy participating in, and offer activities that s/he can successfully finish.

Second, modify family traditions and avoid overstimulation
A flurry of activity, numerous visitors, and a noisy environment can be a recipe for overstimulation. This may be especially challenging at a New Year’s Eve dinner table. Therefore, extra precautions before and during the meal can be taken to help keep the environment calmer. Food, of course, plays a significant role and holds special meanings in this festival. However, too many dishes on the table may be overwhelming. Setting a plate in front of the person living with dementia and serving the food s/he likes can help prevent overeating or forgetting to eat. Mahjong, dice games, and firecracker/fireworks are often the go-to activities after the big feast. Although families may enjoy these customs, the noise may startle or frighten the person living with dementia.

Consider finding alternative activities that are enjoyable for the person living with dementia like reminiscing, looking through old photo albums, or playing the music s/he likes. For many families, this is the only time of the year that they will see their extended family members. Therefore, communication and adjusting expectations are crucial prior to the gathering.

Third, stick with routines and arrange appropriate and meaningful activities
It is common to make pilgrimages to temples or have family outings the days after the New Year. When making plans, select activities that the person living with dementia will enjoy the most and will fit within her/his existing daily routine. Consider visiting less-crowded areas or making the outings brief. Always give yourself extra time to prepare and try to be flexible. And give yourself permission to leave early, if necessary.

A well-planned Lunar New Year celebration can have a positive impact on the person living with dementia and the people around her/him. Let’s make this holiday dementia-friendly and cherish our moments together. Happy Year of the Tiger!

春節失智症照護小提示

世界上有超過十億人會慶祝農曆新年。在許多亞洲文化中,它是最重要的節慶之一。今年二月一日,人們將一起迎來農曆新年中的虎年。農曆新年的慶祝的方式因地域文化而不盡相同,但與心愛的人團聚歡迎新年的好運氣是全球共同的儀式。

阿茲海默症及其他失智症的家屬面對春節時期的傳統習俗,心中可能會承受說不出口的壓力及擔心。許多額外的新年活動、日常生活行程及環境的改變都會增加失智症者的困惑感,進而導致行為改變或情緒波動。

作為一名照顧者,我們應該如何在維持傳統習俗及提供照護之間找到平衡,讓失智症者及其他家人過個好年呢?您可以在此篇文章中找到一些基本的節日照顧提示。今天我們要跟大家分享在慶祝農曆新年時要特別注意的地方。

第一,讓失智症者參與新年前的準備活動

年前大掃除、除夕團圓飯或圍爐是最重要的傳統習俗之一。讓有失智症者一起除舊佈新或準備佳餚,不僅可以增加她/他的參與感及成就感,也能讓她/他適應即將到來的年節。在分配工作之前,請先謹慎評估失智症者現有能力及喜好,然後分配她/他喜歡且能勝任的任務。

第二,適度地調整家庭傳統習俗及避免過度刺激

年節活動、無數的訪客以及吵雜的環境,都可能會過度刺激失智症者。特別在吃年夜飯的時候,這些情況會更加明顯。因此事前適當地準備安排,可以讓大家享受一頓平靜的團圓飯。例如:年夜菜絕對是當晚的重頭戲,但過多的選擇會讓失智症者不知道從何下手。因此我們可以事先準備好一份失智症者喜歡的飯菜放在她/他的面前,這樣可以避免因過多選擇而忘記吃飯,或是過度飲食。

麻將、骰子遊戲及放鞭炮、煙火這些都是一般常見的農曆新年活動。但這些活動所產生的聲響可能會驚嚇到失智症者。所以,我們可以嘗試其他較平靜的團體活動,例如:翻閱舊照片,以懷舊方式慶祝,或是播放她/他喜歡的音樂。對於很多家庭來說,這可能是一年之中唯一能見到其他家庭成員的機會,因此,和他們的事前溝通極為重要,這不僅可以讓家人了解失智症者的情況,也可以幫助家人調整心態。

第三,儘量維持正常生活作息和安排適當及有意義的活動

新年祭祀、祭祖或走春都是在春節期間常見的習俗。在您規劃行程時,應考慮失智症者喜歡且符合生活作息的活動。活動盡量避免人多地方,時間也不應過長,保留充裕的出門準備時間及彈性的行程,如果必要時可提早回府。

完善規劃的農曆新年可做為一個讓失智症者與家人朋友互動的好機會,不僅可以讓她/他保持與社會的連結,並且能增加自我價值感。讓我們一起共同創造一個對失智症者友善的環境,開心慶春節。在此也祝大家虎年吉祥!

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