Christmas dinner conversations

All over the world, families gather for Christmas dinners. After enjoying a full meal, how can one avoid awkward silences, politics or religion? Choosing appropriate conversation topics can foster positive relationships between family members and inject a little fun. If there is someone in the family who suffers from dementia, it is important that they are not excluded from the conversations. One of the common symptoms of dementia is loss of memory. Human forget information all the time, but memory loss with dementia is persistent and progressive. It normally affects the ability to carry out familiar tasks. Family members should be mindful that how a person age is different and the experiences with our memory bank would differ too.

Here are some tips to help family members accommodate to the person suffering with dementia on Christmas day (& any other eventful day):

  • Remind all guests that the person with dementia will be present
  • Allocate an easy access seating for the person
  • Have photographs, journals, or the likes of the person with dementia to use as conversational topic guides
  • When in conversation, minimise distractions, ask one question at a time, and pay attention
  • Allow them to take their time to recall memories
  • Acknowledge that the person with dementia may feel frustrated as they become increasingly unable to follow conversational topics
  • Provide as much/little assistance after checking in with them
  • Be aware of their body language, offer the opportunity for them to leave the table to rest if need be
  • Do not make a big issue of an embarrassing incident if it occurs

It is easy to forget that the person with dementia is still an individual. They are not disabled, nor are they ‘gone’, they are still family with a debilitating disease who have to manage their actions with fluctuating brain activities. Relax and enjoy each other this Christmas.

KOPWA offers dedicated care services for both home care clients and our ageing in place residents, for more information, please contact (02) 9412 0284.