The holiday season is almost here and it’s the time for family gatherings again where cheers, laughter, and sometimes drama fill every participant’s memories. For families coping with Alzheimer’s though, the holiday season can be very challenging, stressful, and frustrating.
Celebrating the holidays with Alzheimer’s can give any caregiver stress and a whole lot more. Holidays for the elderly with dementia or Alzheimer’s can get very agitating and confusing, which could lead to them being over stimulated. When that happens, caregivers could become anxious and lonely, which could result in more stress and even depression.
Here are seven tips on how you can make the holidays and Alzheimer’s become more coexistent.
Holidays and Alzheimer’s Tips #1: Plan Ahead
Focus on the challenges that you may encounter during the holiday season. Then think about how you can make things better for everyone. List down what you think will be socially and emotionally expected of you.
Talk about holiday gathering and celebration plans with your relatives and friends. Include regular routines in your plans so you can give a happy, meaningful, and peaceful holiday event for your loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Holidays and Alzheimer’s Tips #2: Avoid Caregiver Stress by Taking Care of Yourself
The holiday season gives opportunities for everyone to spend more time with your loved ones. Keep that in mind so you and your loved ones who have Alzheimer’s will get to enjoy everything that the season has to offer. Stay positive and ask help whenever you or your loved one needs it.
Tell family and friends about how you aim to minimize the stress level for everyone during the holidays. Go to an Alzheimer’s Association support group meeting where you can hear about other ways on how to deal with the holiday stress. Set some time for yourself like a movie or lunch date with a friend. Just arrange for a quick in-home care.
Holidays and Alzheimer’s Tips #3: Prepare Everyone for The Family Celebration
In celebrating the holidays with Alzheimer’s, it would be best to prepare them for the coming events during the holiday season. You can show photos and talk about those who will be in the gathering.
Prepare a quiet room for instances when things get a bit too loud or if it gets too crowded. Choose familiar songs as music background and serve favorite holiday foods. Schedule a nap time. Set an appropriate time for the visitors’ arrivals.
Don’t forget to tell the visitors about your loved one’s condition, what gifts would be appropriate, and what ways can they communicate better with your loved one who has Alzheimer’s or dementia. Knowing ahead would let everyone avoid any uncomfortable or possibly harmful situations.
Holidays and Alzheimer’s Tips #4: Check with Everyone about Choosing the Activities
Choose holiday season activities by discussing the possible choices with your family, friends, relatives, and your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Ask them if they like taking walks in the park, putting icing on cupcakes, doing household chores, telling stories, making a family tree or a scrapbook filled with memories, or keeping a diary.
Place the scrapbooks, photo albums, or magazines on accessible areas like the center table of the living room. You can also play upbeat music to encourage dancing and other types of exercise. Tell the visitors in advance if they can join in simple activities with your loved one.
Holidays and Alzheimer’s Tips #5: Communicate
A person with Alzheimer’s ability to communicate is weakened because of the disease. To help you understand your loved one better, be calm and supportive. Don’t rush them. Speak slowly and in a relaxed manner.
Try not to criticize them if they forgot something. Don’t ask them if they remember. Call them by their name. Maintain your patience and be flexible. Avoid arguing with them.
Holidays and Alzheimer’s Tips #6: Choose Appropriate Gifts
Tell your family and friends to give practical and useful gifts for your loved one and to avoid buying things that could become dangerous like utensils and pets, or things that would confuse them like challenging games and complicated gadgets.
You can also involve your loved one in giving gifts. If he used to enjoy painting, you can give your loved one some painting materials. You can also buy the gift and let your loved one wrap the gift. People with Alzheimer’s or dementia would be more excited for the holiday season.
Holidays and Alzheimer’s Tips #7: Ensure a Safe Home Environment
If you’re going to spend holidays for the elderly with dementia, ensure that the environment is safe. Because things could become confusing and frustrating for them their judgment could undergo some changes. They may even wander about.
To minimize the risk of injury or to avoid any confusion, assign someone who can become your loved one’s buddy. Set aside enough clear space for side-by-side walking, walkers, and wheelchairs. Determine where your loved one would be best suited to facilitate conversation.
Avoid serving alcohol. Consider changes in your loved one’s vision. Put contrasting colors for the rugs in front of steps or doors, and don’t choose dark-colored rugs that could look like holes.
Limit your loved ones’ access to the kitchen or staircase and keep track of the temperature of food and water. Don’t use candies, artificial fruits and vegetables, or edibles as your decorations for the holiday season. Monitor your loved one’s medication times. Always have emergency numbers and a list of your loved one’s medicines with you wherever you go.
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