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How Caregivers Can Handle Holidays with Dementia Patients

Don’t Let Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia “Ruin” Your Holiday Traditions

When you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, every day can be a struggle. Balancing their needs and yours while still trying to accomplish everything that needs to be done in a day can take a toll on anyone. That stress can be magnified tremendously during the holidays. This short but event-packed stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can be a challenge for folks who don’t have any other obligations let alone a family caregiver. But as trying as this time of year can be, you can still handle the holidays with dementia or Alzheimer’s in your family.

Here are a few tips to help you get through the holidays without feeling like your loved one’s disease or disability is running the show.

Manage Everyone’s Expectations

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that families come together prior to the holiday face-to-face to discuss how to handle the upcoming event effectively. Setting ground rules for what can and cannot be done allows everyone to understand that while Alzheimer’s or dementia may have limited your capacity it does not have to rule your holiday.

If you’re planning a get-together with folks who are not in your immediate circle, send out a letter explaining how things are going in your household to help them realize what they can expect.

Getting this baseline established early lets everyone participate without feeling “cheated” or left out.

Dial It Down

Sometimes smaller is better. If you’re used to massive holiday dinners with the entire family (including far-flung cousins and their kin) maybe it’s time to think about something a little more intimate. Bringing the guest count down is an easy way to eliminate a huge chunk of the burden placed on family caregivers and helps everyone enjoy the holidays more fully.

Can’t give up the big gathering? Shoot for two separate celebrations—one for close family and a second for everyone else. Do what you can to make the holidays with dementia easier for everyone.

Shop from Home

Alzheimer’s and dementia patients can struggle in unfamiliar surroundings. So instead of a big family outing to the mall or the outlet stores, maybe it’s time to stay home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t shop for deals. Set aside a specific time to shop from home. Get other family members involved. Make a list. Make a game of it. Make it special.

Create New Traditions

And if you find that old traditions are just too much to handle, don’t let that stop you from creating new ones. Maybe instead of hunting for hours for that perfect Christmas tree, you all sit down for a holiday movie night with classic new and old. Instead of caroling with the choir, maybe you sing karaoke for the grandkids. Maybe ice skating at the local rink gives way to a drive through the neighborhood to look at the lights. Holidays with dementia or Alzheimer’s in your family don’t have to be any less memorable.

Don’t Brush the Past Under a Rug

But just because some old traditions have to be put away, you shouldn’t give up on the past altogether. While going through the holidays with dementia patients can be bitter sweet, it’s important (mentally and emotionally) for both the family caregiver and the Alzheimer’s or dementia patient to reminisce about the past. Break out an old family photo album or dig up those old home movies.

Eliminate Unnecessary Stress

When you need help, reach out. Don’t think that just because you’re the primary caregiver that everything rests on your shoulders. Get other family members, friends, or your support network to shoulder some of the burden so you can take time to enjoy the bright moments this holiday season.

If you need even more help, contact Second Family Home Care. We offer non-medical in-home care for Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients in Texas on an as-needed or ongoing basis. Our caring staff members can watch over your loved one while you go shopping, make holiday arrangements, or attend celebrations with other family members, friends, or coworkers. Let us help you make your holidays with dementia and Alzheimer’s in your family as happy (and as stress-free) as it can be.

Call us today at (972) 347-0700 to schedule your in-home consultation.

#dementia #holidays

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