Alzheimer’s Care: 9 Ways to Make the Holidays More Enjoyable
What comes to mind when you think of the holiday season? For most, the holidays are a time of warmth, harmony, and togetherness for friends and family. However, they can also be a source of stress for caregivers who are worried about their loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
If you are a caregiver having mixed feelings towards the upcoming holiday season, here are 9 tips to ensure a wonderful and meaningful experience for both you and your loved one:
1. Be Inclusive: Celebrate the holidays that are important to you, while including the person with Alzheimer’s as much as possible. Involve them in simple preparation tasks, or have them observe you to familiarize them with upcoming festivities – not only does this prepare them for the celebrations, but can give them the pleasure of helping, anticipating, and reminiscing.
2. Enjoy What You Love: If there are events or activities that you wish to attend but your loved one cannot, try to find a way to go yourself. It is always crucial that caregivers be able to have a break and enjoy time to themselves – if needed, ask a friend or family member to watch over the person with Alzheimer’s while you are away.
3. Set Boundaries with Guests: Encourage your friends and family to visit, but remember to set your own limits and communicate them clearly. You may feel obligated to keep participating in festivities despite feeling tired, or if the person with Alzheimer’s needs your attention. Remember that you do not have to live up to the expectations of your friends and relatives – you are in a place of responsibility to both yourself and the person with Alzheimer’s, and should only do as much as you are capable of.
4. Use Props or Distractions: Prepare quiet distractions to use such as a family photo album or a favorite food, in case the person with Alzheimer’s becomes overstimulated or upset.
5. Stay with a Routine: Keep the memory-impaired person’s routine as close to normal as possible to prevent confusion or overstimulation.
6. Be Mindful of Overstimulating Situations: Avoid situations that may confuse or frustrate the person with Alzheimer’s, such as crowds, changes in routine, and unfamiliarplaces. Many public settings can get overcrowded during the holiday season, and it is important to be mindful of spaces with excessive noise and stimulation – even in private gatherings, it is best to limit the number of friends and family you have in one place.
7. Prepare Your Guests: Explain what Alzheimer’s disease is and does to an afflicted person, that a visit with the person with Alzheimer’s may be difficult, and give examples of unusual behaviors that are a result of the disease and not of intention. Also emphasize that even if the person with Alzheimer’s does not remember names and information, it is the joy of having company and the meaningfulness of the moment that matters more.
8. Prepare Your Loved One: Try to help prepare the person with Alzheimer’s for festivities and meeting new people. You can do this by showing the person photos of the guests a week prior to the event, or even arranging a phone call that will give your guests an idea of what to expect and the person with Alzheimer’s the opportunity to become familiar.
9. Get Rest: The last tip to help you during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season -is to make sure to find time for adequate rest! Holidays are a time of celebration, but they are also a time of rest and recovery. Balance your activities and the needs of both you and your loved one to have fun, but also maintain your energy.
Many do not realize that the holidays, while a time of celebration and festivities, can also be a source of stress and uncertainty for those in different situations. We hope these tips help you and your loved oneshare a valuable and meaningful experience reconnecting with family and friends, continuing traditions, and making memories. And remember, for many people with Alzheimer’s, a link to a familiar past is comforting in an irreplaceable way.
For more tips on caregiving, feel free to contact our Helpline at 844-HELP-ALZ (844-435-7259) or visit our website at www.alzoc.org/resources.