Local families, whose lives have been impacted by dementia, had the chance to enjoy some festive cheer at the exclusive launch of Titanic Belfast’s Magical Christmas Experience.
Families were invited by the Alzheimer’s Society to the World’s Leading Visitor Attraction to see Father Christmas arrive and launch the Magical Christmas Experience. Aware that Christmas can often be a challenging time for families living with dementia, with heightened emotions and feelings of isolation, the event enabled families to kick off the festive season together.
The families had the chance to step through the Old Curiosity Shop to enter into the Elves’ Workshop, join Mrs Claus at her cosy kitchen, hear Christmas tales, enjoy festive games, badge making, look up their names in the naughty or nice list and meet Father Christmas.
Mingling with a host of well-known Northern Ireland faces from the entertainment industry, the families were first to preview this year’s event.
Titanic Belfast’s Director of Operations Judith Owens, commented: “Christmas is a truly magical time of year and our Experience is all about embracing festive cheer and creating unique memories. With over 20,000 individuals and families living with Dementia in Northern Ireland and one in three children knowing someone living with Dementia, we are delighted to be able to support the Alzheimer’s Society to give the gift the joy to its very deserving service users this festive season.”
Bernadine McCrory, Northern Ireland Director at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We are so grateful to Titanic Belfast for inviting our families to be involved in the Magical Christmas Experience. Some of the best Christmas gifts can’t be wrapped, and hosting a Dementia Friendly event so that families can enjoy Christmas together is a present that will not just build new memories for future generations, but will also allow families to remember and reminisce about Christmases gone by.
“With someone developing dementia every three minutes and no cure in sight, the need to unite in the fight against dementia has never been more pressing , so this Christmas Alzheimer’s Society is celebrating the thousands of people who have united against dementia this year by fundraising, campaigning and volunteering for Alzheimer’s Society, and we are pleased to see some of our amazing volunteers with personal experience of dementia in their family here enjoying the magic of Christmas at Titanic Belfast.”
If you are hosting a family member living with dementia this Christmas, here are a few tips to help you make the day special for everyone:
- Put your decorations up early and slowly
Introduce Christmas decorations gradually, over the course of a few days or even a week, so that it doesn’t come as a big change to the person’s usual setting.
- Spread out family visits
A large number of guests can be noisy and overwhelming, so spread out visits over the festive period.
- Create a quiet room
If things do get busy, designate one room in your house a ‘quiet room’ where one can relax without loud noise and consider scheduling periods of rest throughout the day.
- Keep the routine
Try to keep meals at the same time and in familiar surroundings so your loved one can relax. Be mindful of food, although people tend to over indulge during the festive season, a full plate can be quite daunting so try not to overload your loved one’s plate.
- Play some familiar Christmas music or reminisce over old photos
This can help your loved one relax and will add a nice touch to the festivities. Or why not try one of Alzheimer’s Society’s Carols by Candlelight taking place from 3rd – 21st December across Northern Ireland.
Titanic Belfast’s Magical Christmas Experience runs until 23 December. To book, visit www.titanicbelfast.com.