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Family sitting around the table during the holidays

4 Ways Caregivers Can Cope with Alzheimer’s During the Holidays

The holidays can be tough for families affected by Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Your loved one living with Alzheimer’s may experience confusion or anxiety, especially with the additional hustle and bustle of the holiday season. And that could put added stress on families.

Our local FirstLight® caregivers shared these tips to help make the holidays merry, bright and, most of all, memorable for family caregivers and the people in their care.

Create a safe and calm space. It’s easy to go all out during the holiday with decorations, blinking lights, music and loud gatherings.

  • Simplify holiday decorations. Avoid blinking lights or large decorative displays that can cause angst or confusion.
  • Steer clear of decorations that add clutter or require you to rearrange a room that is already familiar to your loved one.
  • Be careful of potential safety hazards. Substitute burning candles for battery operated ones. Avoid fragile decorations or those that could be mistaken for edible treats, such as artificial fruits or candy.
  • Be considerate of your loved ones by paying close attention to their needs. Anyone living with Alzheimer’s will tire easily and can become agitated with a lack of sleep. They may need to lie down for a while and get some rest.
  • Provide a quiet place for the person with Alzheimer’s to have time alone or to visit with one person at a time.

Modify your holiday traditions. Identify holiday activities that your loved one can easily manage and that you both would enjoy.

  • Do crafts, such as decorating cookies or writing holiday cards, or binge-watch all your favorite holiday movies. Focus on the quality of time spent together rather than the outcome.
  • Keep things more casual and relaxed. Host smaller family gatherings or limit the number of visitors stopping by throughout any given day.
  • Maintain your existing daily schedule and routine to keep things consistent.
  • Keep outings brief and be prepared to leave early if your loved one becomes tired, confused or overwhelmed.

Prepare holiday visitors. For many guests, this may be the first time they’ve interacted with the individual living with Alzheimer’s. Or perhaps it’s just been a while since they’ve seen them. Before your guests arrive:

  • Share with them any changes in behavior or memory since their last visit.
  • Offer communication tips. Suggest ways for guests to listen patiently, including not criticizing repeated comments, not correcting errors and not interrupting.

Remember self-care. This is crucial for caregivers – whether it is the holidays or not. We have found these tips to be the most helpful for making any season enjoyable:

  • Don’t over commit. Pick and choose the holiday activities that will be most meaningful for you and the loved one in your care.
  • Set realistic expectations on what you can do over the holidays and be comfortable saying “no” to family and friends when your schedule has reached its limits.
  • List out everything that needs to be completed during the holidays and prioritize what you can do, then delegate to family, friends, and local professionals to help with everything else.
  • Make time for yourself. Do what brings you joy!
  • Ask for help. If you do not have family close by, we’re here for you.

If you need help tackling all the things that come with the holiday season, contact us. Our local compassionate caregivers can provide respite care services and elder care solutions at home or any setting for a couple of hours, an entire day, overnight, or even longer-term if needed now and throughout the New Year.

We are proud to CHAMPION the family caregiver, offering empathy, advice, and support for those who provide countless hours of care to their loved ones living with Alzheimer’s. We want to provide a helping hand, relieve some of the stress that comes with caregiving and give you back a few hours in your overwhelmingly busy day.

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