The holidays are a time when families get together for joyous celebration—but when your family includes someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, that can make the time spent together a little bit more stressful and challenging.
This is not to say that the holidays season cannot still be delightful—but it may require some planning and recalibrated expectations on everyone’s part.
Any holiday gathering is going to be filled with emotions, and in some cases that can make the symptoms of dementia more pronounced. One thing you can do is to make sure that all guests know what to expect—that there is nobody who is in the dark about the dementia. Also remember that, even for those in the early stages of dementia, communication can be hard—so just being patient can go a long way toward helping everyone feel comfortable and included.
Also take note that the holidays can be tough on the caregiver—and if that’s you, then you might consider paring down your usual responsibilities. Maybe instead of inviting 30 people to your holiday dinner, simply invite 12 or 15. Instead of doing everything yourself, allow yourself to be more comfortable asking other people to pitch in.
You might also make slight adjustments to your usual holiday gatherings. If the individual with dementia becomes agitated at night, shift your holiday dinner to a festive brunch. Also make sure that your gatherings involve traditions that are important to the person with dementia.
Involving the individual with dementia, even at the planning stage, can also be a great way to ensure all are included. Allow the person to assist you in food preparation or basic cleaning, for instance.
A final note: If you need a little extra time to make holiday preparations, look into respite care, specifically in the form of adult day care. Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more!
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