Changes to the holidays due to COVID-19 will be a challenge for people with dementia. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Changes to the holidays due to COVID-19 will be a challenge for people with dementia. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Webinars aim to help those with dementia approach holidays

“The holidays can present difficulties for people living with dementia for a multitude of reasons”

The winter season brings along with it many different festivals and holidays and, for many Cowichan Valley 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.

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,” Carly Gronlund, the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s provincial coordinator, explains. “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 challenges for people living with dementia, caregivers, family members and friends.

One 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,” Carly says.

Attend a webinar:

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

• Lived experience: Preparing for the holidays during COVID-19 (Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2 p.m.): Hear from people living with dementia as they share the impact of COVID-19 on their preparations for this holiday season.

• 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 them to stop driving. For caregivers and people living with dementia.

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

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