Top 10 holiday tips for Alzheimer's caregivers.

Birches Assisted Living and Memory Care

Birches Assisted Living and Memory Care

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Whether it's for an Alzheimer's caregiver, or the person with Alzheimer's, maintaining a feeling or sense of family identity and tradition during the holidays is important for maintaining mental wellness. 

Any link with a familiar past is especially reassuring when it comes to a person with Alzheimer's. So, how does a caregiver find the balance during the holidays to ensure they can celebrate while providing the necessary care to their loved one?

The following Top-10 tips for caregivers offer insights and advice on balancing holiday-related activities while taking care of your own needs and those of the person with Alzheimer's disease:

  1. Don't deny your holiday traditions that make you feel joyful. Whether it's a simple walk in the neighborhood to view light displays or baking traditional holiday desserts, set aside the time and enjoy those activities.

  2. Don't feel guilty about simplifying your life around the holidays. Consider cooking a smaller meal for the immediate family rather than a larger undertaking. When decorating, consider going with just a few items that have special memories attached to them.

  3. While you may try to include the person with Alzheimer's in as much holiday tradition as possible, do not skip celebrating any holidays that you personally value.

  4. Virtual visits are a great way to connect over the holiday season. When health/safety protocols allow, encourage family and friends to visit in person. Explain to anyone unfamiliar that (during COVID) physical distancing guidelines are important. Space out visits and try to schedule them when a person may be at their best.

  5. It should not be a source of guilt for you to want to attend holiday events the person with Alzheimer's is unable to participate in. Consider going yourself and asking someone to spend time with the person while you're out.

  6. Be prepared for the possibility that the person with Alzheimer's may become overstimulated or agitated. Have a quiet place they can retire to and rest. Be ready with a potential diversion, such as a walk, a favorite photo album, or treasured holiday memory, if a situation arises.

  7. Steer clear of any situations that could frustrate or confuse your loved one. Avoid strange settings or significant changes in routines.

  8. Avoid serving them alcohol or rich foods that could cause a reaction. Likewise, try to manage extreme variables such as excessive noise, overly light or dark rooms, or loud conversations.

  9. The act of involving a person with Alzheimer's in preparations for the holidays will provide an opportunity to contribute and reminisce. If they cannot participate, consider allowing them to observe.

  10. Recognize your situation as a caregiver has changed from previous experiences. Avoid trying to meet others' expectations, communicate your limits to friends and family, and be fair to yourself when setting new goals.