Alzheimer's Care: Coping with the Holidays

The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for families with someone in Alzheimer's care. The holiday season can be marked by stress, sadness and, in some ways, grief. But it doesn't have to be that way.

The holidays are a time to take care of your loved ones, yes. But they are also a time to take care of yourself, and, even with the challenges that come from celebrating this time with a loved one who struggles with severe memory loss and dementia, there are many ways you can enjoy the holidays together while still going through Alzheimer's care. Here are some things to help you cope with the holidays effectively while also making them enjoyable for someone in Alzheimer's care.

1. Plan everything well in advance. Whether your loved one is in an Alzheimer's care facility or simply living at home with you, it should come as no surprise to you that planning is essential in order for any event to take place without any issues. Christmas time is no different. Write down, coordinate and plan schedules, medical and personal appointments, family visits, grocery trips and other major outings you may have.

2. Have your loved one help you prepare for the holidays. It can be anything, from putting together a simple centerpiece for a table to placing decorations along the party space. They can also help you bake and decorate Christmas treats, or help you make gifts and party favors for visitors and guests.

3. Adjust your holiday plans to accommodate the needs of your loved one. One major symptom of Alzheimer's disease is confusing days, dates, times of day, etc. If you fear that there is a chance that having an evening holiday dinner might confuse your loved one, it may be best to change the event to daytime.

4. Do not deviate from your loved one's normal routine. Any change to your loved one’s normal routine may have no effect, or could have a near-catastrophic effect to your family member in Alzheimer's care. This is why it is extremely important to try and stay as close to their normal everyday routine as possible. If they go to bed at 8 p.m., make sure that they go to bed at that time.

5. Prepare your visiting family and friends ahead of time. Though you have been dealing with the effects of Alzheimers first hand, many people don't know anything about the disease or how to deal with it. Explain to your visiting loved ones and friends ahead of time what your senior is going through, encourage them to ask questions and encourage them to visit often so that your loved one may have a better chance of remembering them.

6. Take time out for yourself. Don't get so caught up and overwhelmed in holiday planning with an Alzheimer's care patient that you forget to take care of yourself. Take some time to pamper yourself and have some quiet time. You deserve it.

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