When you are caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or another type of Dementia, facing the holidays can be quite a task. At Home Instead Senior Care, we know this time of year can even be something that a family caregiver may dread because of the added stress of still trying to create holiday memories all while managing behaviors that can stem from Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
Home Instead Senior Care’s website Help for Alzheimer’s Families has created lots of articles including resources and tips to make the holidays more manageable. Below are 4 tips to Manage Alzheimer’s and other dementias during the holidays:
1. Recall past traditions of the person—make their favorite mincemeat pie.
Spend time doing things that always meant a lot to your loved one. If you always made homemade ornaments each year with mom using materials around the home or by sewing, then try to keep that tradition. It will allow you to make new memories and focuses on a past tradition that mom loved, from a time she more than likely can remember really well!
2. Celebrate in smaller groups—attend a religious service off hours, or enjoy your own spiritual readings/traditions.
To avoid any unnecessary agitation with your loved one, avoid huge crowds or situations that you know will trigger certain behaviors. Think about less busier times at department stores to shop or the suggestion above for church services, etc.
3. Do some simple chores together. Wrapping presents is a good one: “Mother, do you like the red bow or the green ribbon?”
Always providing your loved ones with choices, even around the holidays, helps them to feel included but also in control of their own care. When a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia may act out irrationally, it is often because they are trying to communicate a need or want to be in control of their own care and can’t express that. Let them decide what wrapping paper to use between two choices (two is preferred because you do not want to overwhelm) or let them choose between the turkey or ham for dinner.
4. Use the holidays as a chance to share appreciation and support with friends and family who have helped.
This one is really important! If you are blessed enough to have a great support team in helping to care for your loved one, be sure you use the holidays as a way to show appreciation. Send a thoughtful card, gift or some homemade goodies to show how much you are thankful for their support!