Some helpful advice for the Holiday period – Rebecca Newson, Assistant Psychologist, Northampton Services

Christmas is a time for forgetting one’s self and finding times for others. At this time of year, we are buying presents, putting up bright lights and enjoying family gatherings. For those who have an acquired brain injury, this time of year can be difficult returning home to their loved ones, due to various factors including cognitive deficits, physical disabilities and it can bring memories of the past of what life “used to be.” Loved ones can make this time of year simpler for those with an acquired brain injury by:

• Having a visual Christmas timetable of the day events, to prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed. After brain Injury, structure can be a crucial prevention of unwanted behaviour.
• Have smaller gatherings over longer periods of time to prevent fatigue.
• Have a space in the home that is quiet, safe and relaxing to prevent them becoming overwhelmed.
• Less is really more. Those with brain Injury often experience sensory overload, therefore it is important to limit the amount of decorations within the home.
• Shopping centres are often overcrowded, noisy and an array of bright lights. To ensure this is a positive experience for someone with a brain injury you can do the Christmas shopping online, where they can be involved within the process.

Christmas will bring back past memories and it can often be difficult for that person to process, it is important that as a family you can talk about this and be open about the past. But it is also just as important to make new traditions and family memories and to embrace the changes. Most importantly value your time with your loved ones, sing Christmas carols, eat buckets of mince pies and enjoy Christmas movies curled up on the sofa.