Fireworks, Festivities & Fear: Be Prepared

What’s more Fourth of July than parades, picnics and, of course, fireworks? While Americans turn out in droves to ooh and aah at the brilliant nighttime displays, it’s important to remember that crowd sensitivity and firework distress can be very real phenomena for up to 5.8 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease. “Bright, sudden flashes of light and loud booms can cause fear, disorientation, and even physical discomfort for some people with dementia, particularly those who may suffer from PTSD, such as war vets,” says Jessica Smith, Community Relations Director at YourLife™ of Wildwood, a new Memory Care community in Wildwood, Florida.. “But many people with memory loss can enjoy Fourth of July celebrations, including fireworks, with the right planning and considerations.” In this post, we will present some tips for a safe, enjoyable Fourth of July. • Keep the party small. It’s advisable to avoid busy July Fourth crowds every year – and especially in 2020 – if you’re caring for someone with dementia. Instead, keep celebrations small and at your home where they feel safe, comfortable and welcome, you can control their environment, and your loved one can stick to their familiar routine (e.g., eating and napping schedules). • Get your loved one in the spirit and primed to have fun! Bake Fourth of July-themed desserts, make decorations, and listen to favorite patriotic music together. If they enjoy helping around the house, ask them to help you sweep floors, decorate, or gather the tableware before your guests’ arrival. • Is nighttime a good time? Because fireworks begin any time from dusk to late in the evening, be wary of exposing your loved one to fireworks if they are prone to sundowning, typically go to bed early, or resist breaks in routine. These factors can significantly influence your loved one’s tolerance for sensory overload. • If possible, allow your loved one to decide whether they watch or skip the fireworks. Enjoy fireworks from home. If you can see fireworks from your home, consider allowing your loved one to enjoy them from a spot close to the house or from inside through a window. You can turn on the TV or music to drown out any loud booms. Also, check your local TV listings for patriotic performances and televised fireworks or check out online celebrations such as A Capitol Fourth. • If attending a public display: If you’re sure your loved one is up for it, and you can ensure their safety in public, consider the following:  Make sure it is staged by professionals for whom spectator safety is a chief concern.  Choose a comfortable, unpopulated spot and offer plenty of reassurance to make your loved one feel safe. Perhaps reminiscing about watching fireworks together when you were a child will spark positive associations with the tradition and help keep them calm.  Pack a bag with plenty of snacks, drinks, a jacket, and other must-haves.  Bring noise-canceling headphones or music playlists to help soothe your loved one and make the experience more enjoyable.  Download a movie or game. Load your tablet with fun activities that will occupy your loved one while they wait for the show to begin – and give them something pleasant to look at if the bright images become overwhelming. Make sure your tablet is fully charged before heading out.  Have an exit plan. If you’ve been caring for a loved one with dementia for any length of time, you know how quickly things can change. They may have set out insisting the noise and other activity wouldn’t bother them, but once the show begins, the environmental triggers become all too real and you may have to leave quickly. You may even consider watching them from your car. • If public fireworks are canceled this year due to coronavirus, your loved one’s neighborhood may see – and hear – a significant rise in too-close-for-comfort backyard blastoffs. Keep your loved one far away from the action or indoors during these festivities. If the neighborhood celebrations are too disruptive, consider taking your loved one for a drive or going somewhere quieter. • If you were looking forward to watching the fireworks, but it’s impossible to do so with your loved one, don’t be disappointed. “Caregivers spend a lot of time and energy maximizing their loved ones’ enjoyment, often at the expense of their own,” says Jessica Smith from YourLife™ of Wildwood. “The Fourth of July is a great time to hire a favorite caregiver to spend a quiet evening at home with your loved one while you take a break and celebrate!” For more dementia-safety tips, call our dementia care experts at YourLife™ of Wildwood today at 352-433-0942. Designed for You. Defined by You. YourLife™ of Wildwood provides the most exceptional Memory Care and uplifting lifestyle for our residents. In fact, we were created with that one purpose in mind. Each day, we focus all our energy, attention and resources on creating an environment that caters to each resident’s personal needs, choices and individuality, while ensuring unequaled peace of mind and dedicated support for families. At YourLife™ of Wildwood, we have the ability to design and personally tailor plans around our residents thanks to our sole focus on Memory Care. We understand that everyone has their own story, specific needs and retained abilities, so we develop personally inspired care plans that help to enhance and support each person’s independence while enriching their days. To ensure further peace of mind, our team of YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists is on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide assistance with everyday activities, gentle reminders and redirection. With our signature YourStory programming, we not only personalize Memory Care, but we are able to create an individual experience centered around each resident. From cultural, educational and wellness programming to scheduled outings and other special events, to personal care, assistance and multiple therapies, we create days with meaning. At YourLife™ of Wildwood, our residents and their families know that this is a community designed for you, with a lifestyle defined by you. Contact us to learn more! Call us at 352-433-0942 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.