For most families, holidays are filled with opportunities for togetherness, sharing, laughter, and memories. But holidays can also be filled with stress, disappointment, and sadness.
Because of the changes that one has experienced, a person with Alzheimer's disease may feel a special sense of loss during the holidays. At the same time, caregivers may feel overwhelmed maintaininig holiday traditions while caring for their loved one. In addition, caregivers may feel hesitant to invite family and friends over to share the holiday for fear they will be uncomfortable with behavior changes in the family member.
Here are some suggestions that may help to make holidays happy, memorable occasions:
Adjust expectations- give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage, familiarize family and friends with your situation, and discuss holiday celebrations beforehand.
Involve the person with dementia- maintain the person with dementia's normal routine so that the holiday preparations don't become disruptive or confusing, build on past traditions like singing old holiday songs.
Adapt gift giving- encourage people to buy useful gifts for the person such as an identification bracelet.
Try to be flexible- consider a smaller celebration over lunch rather than dinner to avoid sundowning, arrange for in-home care so that you can reduce post holiday stress.
Holidays are opportunities to share time with the people that you love. Try to make these celebrations easy on yourselfAND the person with Alzheimer's disease so that you may concentrate on enjoying your time together.
To learn more about holiday stress and dementia, Alzheimer's disease, or caregiving; please contact the Alzheimer's Association 1-800-272-3900 or visit our website www.alz.org/cleveland