How to Create Memorable Holiday Moments for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s
Posted in the Carrollton Forum
#1 Nov 18, 2010
Tips from Local Expert Jamie Lopez, V.P. Healthcare – Autumn Leaves ( http://www.autumnleavesliving.com/ ):
The holidays are a joyful, activity-filled time of year. We visit with extended family, shop for gifts, socialize more often with friends and co-workers and go out to parties, plays and dinners.
As much fun as this season can hold, it can also seem overwhelming and frustrating for people with Alzheimer’s and for their caregivers. But with advance planning, a little flexibility and some patience the holidays can be filled with moments of joy for individuals with this disease and their families.
When preparing for the holidays it may help to keep the following tips in mind:
- Plan ahead. Know what activities you will have your loved one participate in and set a time limit so they do not become over stimulated, restless or confused. Planning ahead will help you be prepared to get the most out of your time with your loved one, too.
- Keep it simple. Having your loved one help in decorating the house or baking is a wonderful way to involve them in seasonal activities. Just be sure to give simple, direct instructions that encompass a single task. For instance, have your loved one unpack boxes, place ornaments on the tree or mix the cookie dough for 2-3 minutes.
- Be flexible. Remember that the sights, sounds and increased activity around the holidays can be overwhelming to someone with Alzheimer’s. So, if you see signals that your loved one is becoming restless or uncomfortable be prepared to take them home.
- Follow Your Loved One’s Lead. Individuals with Alzheimer’s are most comfortable in a safe environment, where they have a routine, whether this is your home or an assisted living community. When you introduce new activities into this routine be attentive to the signals your loved one may give you that indicate they are over-stressed, tired or uncomfortable.
- Adjust expectations. We all want that “perfect” family gathering and it can be disappointing when your loved one does not remember a family tradition or recognize a family member. Familiarize family members with your situation and ways in which they should interact with your loved one. Additionally, adapt your family plans to limit the number of participants at one time to make the event enjoyable for your loved one as well as the family.
- Allow yourself some “fun” time. Especially during the holidays, it is ok to ask for help. Taking your loved one to an adult day care program, having a friend help with your errands or saying “No” to some requests will go a long way in helping to relieve your stress and making the season more enjoyable for everyone.
If you understand the possible issues and stressful events that may occur, you can plan to have a holiday season that will be enjoyable for your family and your loved one and will create wonderful memories for everyone.
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