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Helping people with dementia during the holidays

Kelsey Chance

Holiday gatherings can be an overwhelming experience for people living with dementia. And one organization is trying to help people thrive instead of survive the holidays.

Alma resident Brenda Roberts helps run the National Council of Dementia Minds. It’s the first national non-profit for dementia in the country run by people with dementia.

Roberts said there are several easy things people can do for a person who has dementia at a holiday gathering

"What most people don't understand is the change in sensory perception that people living with dementia have," said Roberts. "lots of people around flashing lights and decorations and holiday music can be overwhelming."

Robert's, whose husband has been living with dementia for eight years, mentioned one of the most common misunderstandings about people with dementia is their intellect.

"I think probably one of the disservices that we do is frequently look at the losses rather than try to focus on the person's strengths and retained abilities," said Roberts.

Roberts recommends having a designated quiet space, avoid pressuring the person to eat at a gathering and don't seat them in the middle of a large table.

The council says the need for more social awareness around dementia is needed because every three seconds, someone in the world develops dementia.

Rick Brewer has been news director at WCMU since February 2024.