December 19, 2018

Holiday Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

The holidays can be a fun and meaningful experience for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. For the person with Alzheimer’s the holidays can be nostalgic and create a sense of belonging. On the other hand, this time can create some anxiety for the person with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. These tips from the National Institute on Aging can help.

  1. Balance Holiday Activities with Self-Care
    • Celebrate the holidays that are important to your family, including the person with Alzheimer’s as much as they would like to be involved. Participating in activities such as meal prep can be reminiscent. If they are unable to lend a hand, simply observing these preparations can bring a feeling of familiarity.
    • Set you own limits and be clear about them. You don’t have to live up to the expectations of others. Your situation is different.
    • Simplify things. Consider having a potluck instead of preparing an elaborate meal yourself. Minimize decorations, choosing just a few favorite items.
    • Find time for yourself. If you are invited to an event your loved one with Alzheimer’s won’t be able to attend, ask a family member to spend time with them while you are away.
  2. Make Necessary Accommodations
    • Encourage family members to visit. You can limit the number of visitors at once, or have them visit quietly with the person in a separate room to avoid making them feel crowded. Plan visits for the time of day when that person is typically at his or her best.
    • Prepare quiet distractions as well as a resting place.  Have a resting area ready in a separate room away from the crowd. Keep a family photo album there for them to look through if they become overstimulated.
    • Avoid things that could frustrate or confuse the person with Alzheimer’s, such as unfamiliar places, large crowds, changes in routine, etc.
  3. Prepare Guests
    • For anyone who is visiting the person with Alzheimer’s for the first time since they’ve become severely impaired, be sure to explain to them that the person might not remember their names but can still enjoy their visit.
    • Explain that memory loss is not intentional but a symptom of the disease. Let them know their visits are still meaningful.
  4. Prepare the Person with Alzheimer’s
    • A week or so before the arrival of guests, begin showing the person with Alzheimer’s pictures of the guests and explaining who they are.
    • Arrange a phone call with the visitor. This will give them both a better idea of what to expect and make them more comfortable.
    • Keep their routine as close to normal as you can.
    • Allow adequate time for them to rest.

Article: Holiday Hints for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

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