How to Care for a Loved One with Alzheimer's during the Holidays

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At Freedom Home Care, our staff is witnessing the start of holiday celebrations in homes all around the Highland area, and it warms our hearts to see families come together this time of year.  We all also know that there is plenty of stress and anxiety associated with family gatherings, and that can be amplified when visiting a loved one with Alzheimer’s during the holidays. But with a little planning and preparation, you can ensure your holiday season to go as smoothly as possible.

The first step is to evaluate the current situation and prepare others of what to expect.  Close family members of a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s may be used to the emotional ups and downs that can occur. However, a visitor from further away may not be as prepared, so be sure to familiarize all visitors with your loved one’s current situation.  If you still think a certain individual wouldn’t be able to remain calm and objective in the case of a potential outburst, frequent phone calls and webcam visits may be another option.
Another important step is to include the person with dementia in the planning of the gathering. While they may not be able to help with the execution of the plans, being included will give them a comforting feeling of control, and also may give  you an idea of any possible emotional triggers.  It may also help if your loved one makes a memory photo album that includes the names, relations, and photos of people who will be visiting. Setting out labeled pictures in frames around the house may also help re-familiarize them with the faces they will see soon.
Making sure the itinerary stays as close to schedule as possible is also very helpful for someone with Alzheimer’s, and be sure to explain this to your visitors as well.  When so many things are becoming unfamiliar, keeping a routine can be key to preventing emotional outbursts.
But no matter what you plan, be sure to keep it flexible.  We know life with a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia can vary from one day to the next, and the same is true for the holidays.
Here at Freedom Home Care, we specialize in the care for those with Alzheimer’s, and would be glad to help your loved one prepare for visits and celebrations. Please contact us for any additional info or assistance, and be sure to have a safe and happy holiday season!