Alzhimer's and Dementia: Tips for Family Members and CaregiversThe holidays are usually a time filled with laughter and joy however for those with family members living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, stress and frustration can become an issue. Below are four tips to help prepare for gatherings and get through the holiday season a little more easily.

 

1. Prepare your guests in advance.

Let your guests know what to expect before they arrive. If they haven’t seen your spouse, parent or loved one in a while, they may not be aware of significant changes to their memory, personality and possibly appearance. Remind guests to have patience and avoid quizzing your family member as that can increase irritability and stress. Let them know that their presence and kindness is appreciated by your loved one even if they forget who they are or have trouble following conversations.

2. Keep the celebrations simple and involve your loved one.

Involve your loved one in tasks that they can enjoy safely. They may be interested in cooking, wrapping gifts or decorating. It’s important to adjust your expectations as well and be focused on their involvement rather than the result. Tone down decorations and loud music/noises to avoid confusion or disorientation. Some decorations such as blinking lights, moving figurines or items that play loud music should be turned off or put away.

3. Consider your loved one’s needs first.

Keep their daily routines as in tact as possible and have all of their medications and supplies ready in advance. If you will have a lot of visitors, create a quiet, safe place for your family member in another area of the home where they can rest. It is recommended that visits are kept to a two hour limit.

4. Take care of yourself.

The holidays are often stressful without the added challenge of caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Simplify your schedule and focus on those events and traditions of most importance to you and your family. Allow friends and family members who offer help to pitch in. Delegate tasks, errands, meals and cleaning. Most importantly remember to be flexible and allow breaks for yourself.

Below are more sources for tips and downloadable materials:
National Institute on Aging