The holiday season can be a difficult time for families with Alzheimer’s. Even though it is typically a time for celebration, they may feel a sense of loss for how things used to be.
The holidays may also mean more responsibility and work for caregivers. They will have to consider the needs of their loved one with Alzheimer’s when decorating for the holidays and hosting gatherings.
Caregivers can discover meaningful ways to enjoy holidays by adapting their expectations and changing some traditions. The following tips may help them make the holiday season enjoyable for their loved ones.
Create a peaceful and safe environment
It is crucial to make preparations to ensure a calm and safe space for the person with Alzheimer’s. The following tips can help in this regard:
- Avoid potential hazards. Replace burning candles with electric candles. Do not let candles burn unattended if you light them. Avoid delicate ornaments or ornaments that could be mistaken for food, like fake fruit. Fix the Christmas tree to a wall if you have one.
- Avoid using blinking lights or huge decorative displays, which can be confusing. Also, avoid decorations that create clutter or necessitate rearranging a room familiar to the person.
- Play the person’s favorite music. Consider holiday music that is familiar or enjoyable for them. Adjust the volume to be calming rather than distressing.
Adapt holiday activities
The following tips can help you make the holidays for your loved one with Alzheimer’s more enjoyable:
- Make holiday preparations together, such as baking cookies, opening holiday cards, and making simple decorations. Concentrate on the task at hand rather than the consequence.
- Organize a small gathering and keep the celebrations calm and relaxed.
- Arrange a gathering at the optimal time of day for the person with Alzheimer’s. Maintain daily routines as much as feasible to avoid disturbances.
- If you have guests, ensure a quiet area where the person with Alzheimer’s may spend some time alone and relax.
- Make plans for meaningful holiday activities. You may read a favorite holiday story, browse through photo albums, watch a movie, or sing songs.
- Make your excursions brief. If you are going to a Christmas party, make your visit brief and be ready to depart early if necessary. Be sure there is a place for the person with Alzheimer’s to take a break and rest.
It is crucial to let the guests know about the person’s behavioral changes before their visit. The following tips can help:
- Update and inform visitors beforehand of any modifications to behavior or memory from their previous visit. People may be better prepared for changes in appearance if you provide a recent photo.
- Offer communication tips to the guests and suggest that they listen patiently to the person. Ask them to refrain from correcting mistakes, criticizing repetitive comments, and interrupting.
- Inform your guests in advance of the activities you have planned or suggest something they might bring, for instance, a photo album.
Celebrating the holiday at a care facility
If a member of your family is in a nursing home or other type of care facility, consider the following:
- Try celebrating in the most familiar environment. Holding a little family celebration within the facility could be a good idea because a change in the atmosphere might be upsetting. You could participate in the festivities scheduled for the residents of the facility.
- Minimize the number of visitors. Make arrangements for a few family members to visit on different days. A large group could be intimidating for a person with Alzheimer’s.
Caregivers, remember! Simplifying celebrations, planning ahead of time, and establishing boundaries can help reduce stress and create an enjoyable holiday experience for you and the person with Alzheimer’s.