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Holidays are just about here so let’s ensure all the family have some fun. The holidays are a time when family and friends often come together. But for families living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the holidays can be challenging. Take a deep breath. With some planning and adjusted expectations, your celebrations can still be happy, memorable occasions. It is possible to enjoy the holidays with a little bit of planning.
The holidays are full of emotions, so it can help to let guests know what to expect before they arrive. Don’t alarm them but inform them.
If the person is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, relatives and friends might not notice any changes. But the person with dementia may have trouble following conversation or tend to repeat themselves. Family can help with communication by being patient, not interrupting or correcting, and giving the person time to finish their thoughts.
If the person is in the middle or late stages of Alzheimer’s, there may be significant changes in cognitive abilities since the last time an out-of-town friend or relative has visited. These changes can be hard to accept. Make sure visitors understand that changes in behaviour and memory are caused by the disease and not the person.
Ensure the expectations are known. The stress of care giving responsibilities layered with holiday traditions can take a toll. Invite family and friends to a face-to-face meeting if you need to, or set up a telephone conference call. Make sure everyone understands your care giving situation and has realistic expectations about what you can do. Be honest about any limitations or needs, such as keeping a daily routine.
Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. Perhaps you may need to reduce the number of people you invite to come to your party to ensure it is manageable.
Involve everybody – including those with Dementia. Focus on activities that are meaningful to the person with dementia. Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs or looking through old photo albums. Why not involve the person with dementia is preparing the house for the visitors, but be careful with decoration choices. Blinking lights may confuse or scare a person with dementia, and decorations that look like food could be mistaken as edible.
Stuck for gift ideas? Why not request that friends or family buy practical gifts like some comfortable clothing, audiotapes of their favourite music, videos and photo albums. Generally, keep it simple and it will be used.
If friends or family ask what you want for a gift, suggest a gift certificate or something that will help you take care of yourself as the carer for your loved one. This could be a cleaning or household chore service, an offer to provide respite care, or something that provides you with a bit of rest and relaxation. If friends or family ask what you want for a gift, suggest a gift certificate or something that will help you take care of yourself as you care for your loved one like a cleaning service, an offer to provide respite care, or something that provides you with a bit of rest and relaxation.
And if you wish to take a break away from the home, our carers will be most happy to ensure your loved ones with dementia are in good, safe hands in your absence.
My best advice: keep the holidays fun for all