The holiday season is supposed to be a joyful occasion, but for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers, the holidays can be anything but wonderful. The good news is, caregivers and their Alzheimer’s patient can reclaim the joy of the season with a few adjustments to your holiday traditions and schedule, and with the right mindset. Check out these suggestions and tips from experts in the study and care of Alzheimer’s disease.
Don’t make major changes in their routine.
Whether your patient lives at home with you or in a facility, it’s best not to make too many disruptions in their daily routine. If they are used to being at home or at the facility, keep them there and bring their loved ones to them.
Keep it simple at home.
If your loved one is currently living with you, try to keep holiday traditions in your home simple yet meaningful. Decorations should be light and simple without too many lights and extravagant colors. Have close family over for a gathering but make it a potluck meal so you don’t have the added stress of preparing an entire meal for your visitors.
Involve your loved one in the holiday preparations.
If they are able to help prepare food or simple decorations, encourage your loved one to help you get ready for the holidays. Even if they can’t actually help let them observe to keep them involved in the celebration.
Focus on meaningful traditions.
What are your loved one’s favorite pastime holiday traditions? Do they enjoy making Christmas cards or candy? Singing carols? Baking cookies? Wrapping presents? Pick their most favorite traditions that are simple to pull off and enjoy them to the fullest.
Set realistic expectations for yourself and your loved one.
Don’t commit to gatherings or other responsibilities that will add more stress to your already hectic life. Be honest with your family and friends about what you can and cannot do during the holidays.
Make time for yourself.
If you have a holiday party or gathering you’re really interested in attending or just want to go shopping for Christmas gifts, find another family member or backup caregiver to take over your duties for a few hours. Caregivers need wellness breaks especially during stressful times like the holidays.
Slow traffic flow.
Schedule visitors to stop by on different days and times to keep your loved one from becoming overwhelmed.
Be prepared to deal with overstimulation.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to keep things simple and easy, overstimulation occurs and causes your loved one to become stressed. Have a game plan to diffuse the stress quickly like keeping a photo album nearby or by having a quick exit strategy and a quiet area to take the patient.
Add respite care to your holiday wish list.
Like we said earlier, you need wellness breaks. Ask your family to keep this in mind when they are planning your gift.