Cards, calendars and crackers, the holidays can be stressful for Alzheimer’s caregivers: The Survivor’s Action Plan.
Demands increase during the holidays, while resources – personal and financial – may be in shorter supply. Here are the insiders’ tips to help you navigate the season, keep your balance, manage expectations–and really enjoy the celebrations, however modest, with your loved one. The scorecard? Keep it simple; Keep it light; Keep your cool. Here goes!…
Keep it simple
- Consider these tips from Teepa Snow: 1. Do things they love to do and keep other activities to a minimum. 2. Some people with dementia enjoy doing and redoing, such as decorating and undecorating. 3. Use familiar objects, places and people that embody good memories.Reduce expectations. Instead of trying to maintain all of the traditions your family usually observes, accept that the holidays will be different than in the past. Focus on creating a warm and supportive atmosphere for the AD person, and look for ways to streamline your celebrations.
- Limit holiday gatherings to smaller numbers. Large gatherings, with their hubbub and lack of predictability can be upsetting for the AD person. Consider having more but smaller events, with fewer numbers, and asking family and friends to take on some of the hosting duties.
- Ask the person with AD, in advance, which key traditions are important to them, or are most comforting. Sitting by the tree with hot drinks, singing or exchanging old stories may be more enjoyable than a large sit-down meal.
- Reduce sensory stimulation. Blinking lights, loud music, a television in the background, several different conversations at once and other distractions may lead to frustration and distress for the AD person.
- If the person with AD lives in a facility, consider creating a special holiday meal for them in the building, rather than asking them to travel. It is often possible to decorate a table with personal items and either bring in a meal the person especially enjoys or dress up a meal provided by the facility with special desserts and other extras.