The holidays should be a time of gathering together with joy and love. But for many families, large gatherings can be stress inducing and a cause for months of anxiety. An estimated 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and this disease affects their whole family.
We believe that every family should be able to celebrate the holidays with happiness. Here are some tips to help you and your family make the most of the holidays with Alzheimer's.
Sometimes we get so used to seeing someone that we have an old picture of them stuck in our mind. Or sometimes it’s been so long since we’ve seen someone that everything seems different. Family gatherings are a great opportunity to really sit down and look at people. Be open to noticing what’s different. Aging loved ones may not be willing to admit or even notice a change. Don’t start an awkward conversation while you’re passing the mashed potatoes, but definitely take note of any changes that you see so that you can discuss it with them later.
Some things to note-
Holidays are emotional occasions. If someone that you love is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, some family members may not notice the changes yet. And if people have been away for a long time, they may not realize how advanced the disease has become in someone they love. This can cause stress for the person with the disease because they won’t feel understood and could be frustrated by a perceived lack of care.
Things have changed. Not everything will go as smoothly as it used to (Though we should note that it usually only looks smooth in hindsight, there were probably “disasters” that you forgot about.) Give yourself permission to do what you can reasonably manage and then stop. It’s okay! If you set reachable goals for the holidays then you’ll avoid possible feelings of depression if you failed to achieve those unrealistic expectations.
Holidays can be a powerful time for people with faltering memories. Songs, familiar activities, and scents can trigger parts of the brain in different ways, sometimes uncovering memories that had been previously lost. Involving you loved ones as much as possible will benefit them as well as you.
The excitement of children around holidays is contagious. Laughter and playfulness can bring joy to the celebration. Not all kids enjoy spending time with older relatives, and it’s important to consider their feelings, but there are ways to help them get over their discomfort.
One of the benefits of at-home care is that loved ones can be present at all of these important holiday gatherings. But if they’ve chosen a different type of care, or are hospitalized you can still include them.
The main thing to remember over the holiday season is that this is a time for love. Don’t let stress over little things get to you. Take a moment to sit back and just breathe. Enjoy the time that you have with the ones that you love. A burnt turkey or a spilled bowl of gravy isn’t what you’ll remember in ten years – the love you shared with your family is. Contact us today to learn how a personal care assistant in Alaska can make holidays with Alzheimer's much smoother for your family.