AS Diwali approaches, for many of us this time of year is an opportunity for socializing with family, friends and our wider community. The current COVID-19 situation is presenting new challenges and uncertainty to what can be an already stressful time – a feeling that is felt even more acutely by people affected by dementia. Remembering a grandchild’s name, being included in group conversations or visiting a new place are all experiences that may challenge a person living with the disease and affect their experience of the holidays. To increase awareness and provide strategies to help caregivers and people living with dementia prepare for the holidays during COVID-19, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. has released a new resource in Punjabi.
“The holidays can present difficulties for people living with dementia for a multitude of reasons,” says Joti Sandhu, Support and Education Coordinator, First Link for South Asian Communities. “Large groups of people, different activities happening at the same time, background noise, unfamiliar places and visual stimulus like flickering candles – these factors can all easily lead to sensory overload for a person living with dementia.”
This year’s celebrations for Diwali will undoubtedly look different and that uncertainty can add additional challenges for people living with dementia, caregivers, family members and friends. In this new Punjabi-language video from the society, which is available to watch at alzbc.org/3l9OMHC, caregivers will learn how to adapt their plans to minimize stress during the holiday season and learn strategies on several topics, including gift giving and celebrating at home.
“It’s important to understand what a person may find challenging, so that we can adapt accordingly. Even small changes can make a big difference and ensure everyone has the best Diwali experience possible,” Joti says.
These online resources are part of the culturally-specific support that the Alzheimer Society of B.C. offers for the South Asian community, which also includes the First Link Dementia Helpline. The helpline is a free, confidential resource for people living with dementia, caregivers, friends, health-care professionals or anyone with questions about dementia or memory loss. The helpline is available in English from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Information and support is also available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.to 4 p.m. in Punjabi (1-833-674-5003) and in Cantonese or Mandarin (1-833-674-5007).
Other Punjabi-language resources include recorded dementia education webinars that are available anytime. Two of these video series, “Dementia friends” and “Getting to know dementia,” are online at alzbc.org/3drAei1.