The holidays can be stressful for anyone. If you add sickness, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease to the mix, you can really have a recipe for disaster as you attempt to navigate the holidays. It’s natural to get a little down during the holidays and caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can really complicate what is to be a joyous occassion.
In the meantime, here are a few tips and tricks to make your holidays easier:
1) Move your furniture as little as possible. It may be your custom to change your home into a winter wonderland during the holidays, but that change can throw your loved one into a real tissy.
2) Consider the crowd factor. One year, we took my mom to Virgina to my in-laws. It was a major disaster. A combination of the different atmosphere, the noise level and the crowd really took its toll on my mother. Before the evening was over, she was literally crawling on the floor, under the piano looking for the stairs because she wanted to go to the basement. There was no basement in the house we were in, but of course, she would not hear of it. That was a l-o-n-g day and night. We didn’t get to bed until 3:00 am because we ended up taking mom for a long drive and then coming in through a different door hoping that she would then accept that we were now in a different place.
3) Be aware of safety considerations.
a. Your loved one could easily take to eating brightly colored decorations
b. Keep all extension cords tucked away
c. Secure all throw rugs
d. Keep your eye on the candy jar. I read a story once of a man who ate an entire jar of his favorite candy in one sitting. Although, we tend to splurge during the holidays, an entire jar of candy isn’t good for anyone.
4) Secure your Christmas tree or other standing decorations if you have them. The lights and decorations can be alluring to someone with Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, they can be scary. I heard of a man who attempted to pick up the entire Christmas tree and remove it because it was, “in the way.”
5) Check out the Mayo Clinic’s suggestions for balancing the holiday’s and caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
Finally, do what you can do to jog your loved one’s positive memories. Pull out picutres, bake a favorite cake or dessert, tell favorite stories. Try to include your loved one, as appropriate, in festivities, even if it means that you have to listen to the same story over and over again.
Next time, I’ll give you some specific ideas for including your loved one as you make the most of the holidays while you battle Alzheimer’s disease.