Warning: include(): Filename cannot be empty in /home/01/63/2026301/web/newsletters/2011_12/art_07.php on line 6
Warning: include(): Failed opening '' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/share/php') in /home/01/63/2026301/web/newsletters/2011_12/art_07.php on line 6
Holidays can be bittersweet for caregivers and family members of people with Alzheimerís disease or another form of dementia. While traditions may bring happiness and comfort, challenges associated with the disease can make this time of year feel overwhelming. Youíre not alone. The Alzheimer Society has some practical tips for making this season enjoyable for you, the person with dementia, and your family. This holiday season remember to find that all-important balance between rest and activity so that you can enjoy your traditions, start new ones or just take pleasure in being in the moment.
For most families, holidays are a time of joy and togetherness, a time for celebrating, sharing and enjoying one anotherís company. Holidays can also be stressful, even at the best of times. When youíre caring for a person with dementia, the holiday season can be especially difficult for all kinds of reasons.
Typical stressors at this time of year include:
The person youíre caring for may also have a difficult time coping with the holiday season. Perhaps he or she feels a particular sense of loss at this time of year or finds the disruption in routine caused by holiday activities distressing
- Dealing with the memories of past holidays, and the unexpected feelings and emotions these memories cause.
- Feeling overwhelmed with maintaining holiday traditions while trying to keep up with caregiving responsibilities.
- Dealing with visitors who donít feel comfortable relating to a person with dementia.
- Expecting too much of yourself or others.
- Feeling guilty for not being able to get into the holiday spirit.
Supporting a Person with Dementia During the Holidays
Whether the person you are caring for is experiencing moderate or more advanced symptoms of dementia, there are still many ways to include them in your celebrations and traditions. Below are some examples of how to support a person with dementia throughout the holidays and find meaningful activities for them to engage in.
It is important to talk to your family members and friends to make sure they understand your situation and that their expectations are realistic. Prepare them for the changes they will notice, and let them know that the person may behave in unpredictable ways. For example, he or she may ask the same question over and over, or may become agitated if there is too much sensory stimulation. Remind family and friends that the person may have trouble remembering names and faces, and suggest they introduce themselves. Perhaps as a group you can all make plans to adapt your traditional activities to suit the needs of your family member with dementia.
- Try to involve the person in your own activities and tasks. For example, before a holiday meal, ask for help with simple chores such as washing vegetables or setting the table. Let the person know their help is valued.
- The person may have happy memories of previous celebrations that you can reminisce about together. Looking at old photos and telling stories may be comforting
- At larger gatherings try to have a space available where the person can rest, be alone, or spend some time with a smaller number of people. If the person lives in a residential care facility, you may be considering bringing them home for the holidays.
- Keep in mind that for some people with dementia, a change of environment can be stressful and cause confusion or anxiety.
- If they do come home, try to simplify things. For example, ask visitors to come in small groups and at a time of day that is best for the person.
- If you are concerned about how the person with dementia might cope with a visit home, consider having a test visit shortly before the holidays.
- If the person cannot come home, ask residential care staff what they will be doing to help residents celebrate and if you can do anything to help.
Warning: include(): Filename cannot be empty in /home/01/63/2026301/web/newsletters/2011_12/art_07.php on line 42
Warning: include(): Failed opening '' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/share/php') in /home/01/63/2026301/web/newsletters/2011_12/art_07.php on line 42