If you’re spending Easter with a loved one who has dementia, there are plenty of ways to make sure you both enjoy yourselves. Here are three simple ways to make Easter easier for everyone.
1. GET CREATIVE
Make an Easter bonnet, organising an egg hunt, or eat hot crossed buns together, but whatever you do, just make sure your loved one with dementia feels included
Make an Easter bonnet:
This very traditional craft activity is something the whole family can get involved in. It can be very simple to get started – just dig out an old hat with a brim (or buy one at a charity shop or discount store) then start adding pieces of ribbon, cardboard cut-outs of eggs, chicks, bunnies and tie in some spring flowers.
Go on an egg hunt:
Another great family activity, if your loved one is able to move around easily, you can enlist them to either help hide the eggs, or be part of the egg hunting group, helping grandchildren. If they’re less mobile these days, they may still enjoy watching the hunt progress around the garden (just make sure to keep talking to them and including them in conversation).
Make a simnel cake:
This is a fruit cake topped with marzipan which is traditionally made at Easter. It’s topped with eleven marzipan balls, which are supposed to represent the twelve apostles, minus Judas. Depending on what stage of dementia your loved one is at, they’ll no doubt enjoy getting involved in the making, baking and decorating of this cake. Even if it’s just helping to roll out the marzipan balls that go on the top of the cake, or stirring the cake mixture, it all provides activity and a sense of purpose for someone with dementia.
Prepare the Easter lunch together:
Whether you go for traditional roast lamb or opt for chicken, pork or beef, sitting down for a family lunch is all part of Easter. Your loved one with dementia may enjoy helping to prepare the lunch, so if they’re able, give them some tasks to be getting on with, whether that’s peeling carrots or stirring bread sauce. Remember, it may take someone with dementia longer to eat food, especially if they struggle with chewing and swallowing, so keep the portions small and consider serving it in a special insulated plate so it keeps warm.
Decorate an Easter tree:
A popular pastime in Germany, creating an Easter tree is a lovely activity and makes a great focal point on the day. Take some branch cuttings that have some spring buds and flowers on (we recommend forsythia or cherry blossom), arrange in a vase of water and then decorate with painted eggs, cardboard Easter decorations and ribbons.
2. GET OUTSIDE
Go for walk in the park, take a stroll to church or why not visit a petting farm? Farm visits can be a great activity for people with dementia because they’re so interactive
Arrange an Easter posy:
As Spring arrives, they’ll be a host of flowers that will start appearing. If you’re able, encourage your loved one with dementia to go for a walk around the garden and pick some to make into a posy. They can be arranged in some oasis, or a small vase. Picking flowers that have a scent will also boost the sensory experience for your loved one.
Go to church:
If your loved one is religious, or enjoyed going to church at Easter in the past, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t enjoy it now they have dementia. Often, hymns, prayers and religious events can stir deeper memories that are actually easier to access, and so more comforting for someone with dementia, than the general day-to-day.
Visit a farm to see Spring animals:
Whether it’s a baby lamb, calf or chick, nothing lifts the soul as much as seeing newborn or baby animals in springtime, and if you can get to hold them and stroke them in a petting farm, even better!
3. TAKE A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
Everyone likes reminiscing but it can be particularly enjoyable for someone with dementia, for whom the past can be more vivid than the present.
Watching a classic movie:
Try Easter Parade (you can sing along with Judy Garland!) Ben Hur, The Robe or Jesus Christ Superstar. Don’t worry if they can’t sit through the whole film, it’s quality not quantity that matters.
Start a conversation:
If you’re struggling to find things to talk about, consider buying one of these replica newspapers which feature major national events such as the 1943 Dambusters or the Moon Landing of 1969. (They cost £3.95 each). These memorabilia packs are also packed with information to trigger memories and are great value at only £5.95. Trawl through them with a cup of tea and a hot crossed bun and, for the price of an Easter egg, you could find yourself having a conversation you’ll always treasure.