Holidays evoke images of family traditions and celebrations with friends. But for those of you living with family members who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other dementia, the holidays can be challenging. While it is important that you pay attention to these needs, it is just as important to take care of yourself, enjoy the holidays and add some beautiful memories with your loved ones.
Taking Care of Loved ones with Dementia/Alzheimers’
- Maintain Routines – One very important thing for anybody with Alzheimer’s/Dementia is Routine. Try to keep your loved one to their regular routine as much as possible. Changes in their schedules or unfamiliar faces might upset them.
- Celebrate Traditions – Even if your loved one can’t remember family celebrations, still keep to the same meals, songs, etc., that they are familiar with. It can help them connect.
- Avoid Crowded and Noisy Places – Over-stimulation causes more stress in those suffering with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Keeping noises down and gatherings small will help them stay calm.
- Manage Sugar Intake – Over indulgence of sugar or alcohol can cause behavioral problems. Watch what your loved one eats and consumes.
- Really Listen – Loneliness can bring on depression. Visit with your loved one as often as possible and listen to their stories.
- Involve them in Preparations – Participation makes the elderly feel important. Let them help decorate cookies, wrap packages or trim the tree.
- Reminisce – Sharing memories can be powerful for the senior. Pull out old photo albums or tell stories of holidays past. If you sense your loved one beginning to get stressed because they can’t remember everyone, put the activity aside.
- Plan for Alone Time – Have a quiet room ready for the senior to rest if they start to become over-stimulated.
Taking Care of Yourself (the Caregiver)
- Adjust Expectations – As a primary caregiver to your loved one, you are taking on additional duties over the holidays. Understand that you won’t be able to devote the same time to holiday preparations, whether it’s entertaining, shopping or cooking. Lower your expectations as to what you can do during these busy times.
- It’s Okay to Say “No” – Guilt is a powerful motivator. We often feel that if we turn down someone’s request, we are failing them. Let go of that feeling. It’s okay to tell family and friends you can’t join them for coffee, or you can’t coordinate the cookie exchange. Know what your limits are and adjust your schedule.
- Prepare Others – If you only see some family members once a year over the holidays, it’s best to prepare them for your loved one’s progressive condition. Let them know the senior might not recognize them or remember years past.
- Trust Your Instincts – You, as the caregiver know how much you can handle without becoming overwhelmed. If an event or celebration feels like it may be too much for either you or your loved one, then reschedule or decline.
Paying attention to your loved one’s mood is key. At Inspired Care Home Health, our Caregivers are trained to recognize stress, irregularity in mood from routine etc in clients with Dementia/Alzheimer’s. They take time to understand the needs of their clients and adjust their care accordingly. In addition, they will inform you when they observe any signs of stress/depression. Tuning in will help everyone survive the holidays.
ENJOY the Holidays!!! And remember, its’ all about having fun!