The holiday season can be a stressful time as it is, but when you have a family member with Alzheimer’s planning can get even more complicated. If someone in your family has Alzheimer’s, there are some additional considerations that you need to plan in advance so that everyone will be able to enjoy the day.
Most people with Alzheimer’s do best with a predictable daily routine – which the holidays inexorably disrupt. To cope, try to keep as much of their daily routine intact. Would one large Thanksgiving gathering with all the family really be better than shorter visits throughout the weekend with different relatives?
Plan ahead but don’t explain ahead. You might think it would be better to prepare the person with dementia for abnormal events, but these efforts can actually confuse them and make them anxious. If you are taking your family to a different setting, just leave plenty of time to get there and explain as you go.
And keep it short. For someone with Alzheimer’s, focusing for long periods of time can be exhausting. You may want to think twice about a schedule that has your loved one “on the go” for hours at a time.
If you’re not used to interacting with this person as much, what can you say? This is a common problem families face in the holiday season, since sufferers of dementia can find it hard to engage in normal conversation. So plan a few activities instead, or make them a part of normal preparations like setting the table or decorating.
And don’t forget to show affection. Many older people no longer have a lot of physical affection. A touch on the shoulder, holding hands, and a hug all communicate love and caring when words fail.
Share memories, too. Old photo albums can be a great way to start a conversation about times that your loved one can still remember. If you don’t have old photos, you can still ask about past times, what they remember about holidays when they were young, or their favorite traditions and foods. You can also watch a movie or TV program together, perhaps an old favorite.
Keep comfort in mind. If you are taking your loved one to another home, bring an extra sweater or a throw blanket just in case. Many elderly people are cold at temperatures that others consider comfortable.
Make a quiet room available too. If the celebration will be very long, make sure your family member can get away from it all and perhaps lie down for a nap. And if you think that they’ve had enough for the day, don’t be afraid to leave early.
Here at Freedom Home Care, we want to make sure everybody has the chance for a stress free and memorable holiday with their loved ones. Be sure to take a look at our services for those with Alzheimer’s or give us a call if you have any questions or concerns before the season gets in full swing.