Thanksgiving Table Talk

Thanksgiving Table Talk

One thing that can definitely be counted on is that things change. Some changes are good like someone graduates from college or they get married or get a promotion at work. Other changes, well, they can be harder to handle.

A dementia diagnosis can definitely bring about changes—for both the patient and their caregiver. And part of what changes is the way we approach the Holidays.

Sometimes the glaring omissions from a dementia patient’s memories make other family members—people who aren’t used to being around the dementia patient—very uncomfortable. As a caregiver, I often found it hard to bridge the gap between my grandparents and relatives who weren’t involved in their day-to-day care.

But let’s try to see the glass half-full here, rather than half-empty. It’s about to be Thanksgiving, so let’s do just that: let’s give thanks that we still have these people with us. Yes, the relationship changes. Some moments at the table may seem awkward, but consider that with a little prompting from you, a few really pleasant memories can enhance the Holiday conversation around the table.

Showing an old photo to the dementia patient may help unlock some of their elusive memories. Avoid asking if they remember anyone or anything about the photo; just show it to them and tell them what you remember. It may take a little coaxing, but the photo may be able to get the dementia patient talking at the table.

Personally, I always loved when I could engage my grandparents in conversation; it never even mattered what we were talking about, it was just nice to be “conversing.”

Don’t let the fact that it feels a little uncomfortable keep you from trying to include the dementia patient in the table talk. Remember, you’re making memories that you’ll be able to look back on at future Thanksgivings. Give it your best shot and then you can look back with no regret—just appreciation for the time you’ve had with them.


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