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.

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