Creating a Happy Holiday when Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s

Holidays are joyous times of the year, but they can also come with added stress. Shopping, getting ready for traveling, or welcoming visitors can seem overwhelming during what is usually a busy time of year.
If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, the holidays can be particularly challenging. Family traditions may no longer mean anything to your loved one and the added stress of caregiving can mean you’re simply not in a festive mood. Here are some tips to help create a memorable holiday for both you and your loved one.
Let go of expectations
Accept the fact that normal traditions may need some adjusting and that you can still have a wonderful holiday. Be grateful that your loved one is still around and enjoy simply being together. Let friends and other relatives know that you may be cutting back on certain activities.
Adjust your party guest list
If you used to have a big holiday party that you know would agitate your loved one, consider having a few close friends over to celebrate the season. Prepare visitors in advance of your loved one’s condition so they know what to expect. Let your loved one know of who’s coming and provide pictures of them beforehand if possible. Consider having guests wear nametags. Finally, have a quiet space where he or she can go if the party becomes overwhelming.
Involve your loved one in holiday plans
Your loved one may still have memories of past holidays. Ask them to share their memories with you. Bring out photo albums, play holiday music and bake cookies or something else the two of you used to do together. In you’re planning a party, invite them to help with cooking or decorating. Giving them a purpose will make them feel part of what’s going on and more receptive to the event itself.
Give appropriately
Your loved one’s diminishing cognition may make usual gifts unusable or even dangerous. Framed pictures of the two of you can ignite memories and make your loved one feel connected. Special lotions, soaps and shampoos can still be enjoyed and make the recipient feel pampered and cared for. Anything that stimulates the senses is a good gift and can include home-baked cookies and cakes. Dolls and stuffed animals are also good choices as they can provide companionship when you’re not around.
 Take care of yourself
Taking care of someone else requires a great deal of self-care. Allow yourself to enjoy the season and spend time with family and friends, taking part in the festivities that are a big part of the holidays. Continue your healthcare regimen, which may include exercising, going to the doctor, or meditating. But being a good caregiver means taking care of yourself – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It’s important to continue doing those things that make life worth living.

Categories: Geriatric Care

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