Alzheimer’s and the Holidays: How to Keep the Joy in the Season

pointsettiaThe holiday season is a time of joy, sharing, love and friendship. It is a time to remember and appreciate the importance of family and all of those we hold dear. For caregivers and families of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of memory loss, the holidays can also be very stressful, sometimes even overwhelming.

Fortunately, a little understanding and advanced planning can still make the holiday season special for you and the other members of your family. The following tips can help you cope with the unique emotional challenges of the holidays and make it an enjoyable time for everyone.

Tips to Keep Your Holidays Happy and Bright

Keep Things Calm

Loved ones with dementia can feel overwhelmed or irritated with the change in normal routine and increased level of noise, people and overall stimulation. If they are in the earlier stages of the disease, they may also have anxiety about others noticing their

Be Open and Honest

Let family and friends know about your loved one’s condition and your concerns. Request their patience and understanding and ask family members for specific assistance through the holidays.

Be Realistic and Practical

You can only do so much! Set realistic expectations for yourself and your loved one. Avoid taking on too many tasks and consider scaling down your traditions, e.g. limiting travel and reducing your number of guests.

Be Prepared

Prepare your loved one for holiday visitors ahead of time and prepare visitors for what to expect and how to best communicate. Provide a private “sanctuary” that your loved one can retreat to when things get too hectic. Avoid giving them alcohol as it can cause depression.

Limit Your Decorations

Over decorating and using bright blinking lights can cause overstimulation. Try to use decorations that recall past holiday memories. Do not rearrange your furniture as this causes confusion.

When Visiting or Traveling

When visiting friends and family, take a favorite “comfort item” with you and prepare the hosts for your loved one’s special needs, including a quiet area away from the crowd and noise. If you’re traveling long distances, plan ahead for all possible eventualities.

Share the Joy

You can help your loved one enjoy the season in many ways, such as taking a ride to see holiday lights, singing or listening to holiday music, reading cards together, baking cookies or hanging ornaments.

Give Safe, Useable Gifts

Your loved one will enjoy such gifts as photo albums of family and friends, stuffed animals or soft pillows, favorite music, videos and movies and simple games.

Don’t let the added stress of the holidays get the best of you. Remember, it’s a time for family and friends to gather and enjoy each other’s company. Focus on the positive things in life. The only thing that really matters to your loved one is knowing they are cared for – and loved.

For more information on how North Woods Village can help you and your loved one keep the joy in the season, contact us today!