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Families Affected by Alzheimer’s Can Keep the Holidays Joyful - Greensboro

- Monday, November 25, 2013

While the holidays are a time of festivities and celebrations, they can pose special challenges for people with Alzheimer’s disease and those who are caring for them. When planning family holiday events, focus on what is safe, manageable and meaningful to that person, said regional care consultant of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“If you’ve always had Christmas at Grandma’s place, how to do change tradition?” she said. “You can make plans but change them if needed” in response to the needs of a person with Alzheimer’s.

Adjust expectations, and avoid taking on too much. It can wear on you and the person you care for. Don’t plan to include the person in a full day of activities. “Everything in moderation.” If the person you’re caring for doesn’t do well in large groups or is leery of crowds, stay away from them.

Here are recommended tips for caregivers and others as the holidays approach:

  • If you’re planning to visit a person in an Alzheimer’s care facility, limit the group to two or three people at a time; a larger group, in one visit, can be overwhelming and confusing.
  • Inform others who don’t see the person regularly about predictable disabilities.
  • At holiday events, stick to the person’s mealtime and sleeping routine as much as possible, no matter where you’re at.
  • Appoint a “holiday partner” to look after the person’s needs.
  • Designate a quiet place where the person can retreat to if things get hectic.
  • If the person can no longer leave the care facility, consider celebrating there and bringing Christmas decorations in, as space allows.
  • Watch for signs of physical or emotional stress.

There’s a lot of grief at this time of year for those dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. People in the early stages of the disease, who realize they have it, may become more agitated or irritable or experience changes in eating and sleeping habits.

Caregivers also need to take care of themselves:

  • Ask for help.
  • Shop for gifts online or through catalogs to limit your stress.
  • Give yourself permission to say “no” to requests or invitations.
  • Consider counseling or joining a support group.

For people coping with Alzheimer’s in their families, things are different. The holiday isn’t the same as it was, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad.

For more information on an Alzheimer’s care facility, contact Spring Arbor.

Grand Forks Herald