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Holidays as an Alzheimer's Caregiver

- Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Humor can get you through the holidays. When you are caring for a loved one who is suffering with Alzheimer's, laughter is essential.

Being an Alzheimer's caregiver around the holidays, with strange faces, blinking lights and open flames, can be like waiting for a bomb to go off.

Balance is the key to getting through the holidays. It's not always easy but with a little creativity and a few adjustments, you can lessen your loved one's stress levels without losing your own quality of life.

Here are some tips for getting through the holidays:

Not everyone needs to be together: Hold festivities in the place where your loved one is most comfortable and with the few people he or she knows best. If there are a lot of people who want to visit, try to have them visit in small groups.

Don't over-deck the halls: Sometimes, decorations can make your loved one's house seem like someone else's home. It may be less confusing to forgo the extra decor.

Santa has elves for a reason: Let a family member bring the mashed potatoes and help with the clean up.

Don't be a saint: No one's going to scold you if your cranberry sauce is in the shape of a can. Sarah Lee can make the pumpkin pie and Cool Whip can bring the toppings.

Wrap it up: Have your loved one help decorate cookies or wrap presents.

Santa doesn't have to come at midnight: If your patient is at their best in the morning, a holiday brunch may be a good option.

Cozy up by the fire: Schedule some time for yourself. You can only be a good caregiver if you're not overloaded with stress. Have a family member watch over your loved one and give yourself a much needed break.

Be the ghost of Christmas past: No matter what you do, there will always be new faces around the holidays. Try to ask your Alzheimer's patient questions about the past holidays.
Holiday gift ideas to give to your Alzheimer’s patient:

Games are often a good idea -- puzzles with large pieces, memory games or Bingo. Natalie advised that her Gramps particularly enjoyed "Find It," a game in which one has to find objects inside a container filled with colorful pellets.

Lastly, try not to think of scaling back the holidays as losing tradition but creating new memories. Having a less chaotic holiday will make looking back more pleasant.

There is no such thing as the perfect holiday, be flexible. All we can do is cherish the good moments with the family we have, while we have them.

If you need information on Alzheimer’s care or assisted living facilities, contact Spring Arbor.

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