The holidays can be a stressful time, not only for Alzheimer’s caregivers, but also your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. “I think with the holidays it’s really important for us to take a practical approach and really adjust our expectations,” said Ruth Drew, director of family and information services at the Alzheimer’s Association. “Maybe there are traditions in the family but they’re more of burden than a blessing.”
Here are some tips to keep the stress level down so you and your loved ones can enjoy the holiday season:
Consult a doctor before hitting the road with an Alzheimer’s patient: When you have a loved one with dementia, it does not mean travel should be completely out of the question. Just keep in mind, traveling can be stressful for anyone, but for someone with dementia the stress is heightened.
Don’t make too many commitments: As a caregiver, you may find it hard to balance things in your daily life as it is. If the thought of hosting a holiday dinner for 12 people is overwhelming, consider inviting fewer people or asking another member to host it.
Bring the holiday celebration to your loved one: If it is too stressful to bring your loved one with dementia to the family, bring the family to them. Many assisted living homes are happy to help with this.
Ask for help: When having people over, make sure to have a “second hand” to help with your loved one in case you are caught in the kitchen or socializing with guests.
Give your loved one a task or job: To help the event run smoothly, give your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease a task to do. This could include setting the table, folding napkins, anything to make them feel like part of the family.
Take our family photo albums: This can help jog your loved ones memory, which could encourage conversations with other guests and family members.