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Holiday Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

A senior caregiver giving a blanket to her father.

The holidays are a meaningful time for caregivers and their loved ones with Alzheimer's. This time of year is filled with family traditions, pastimes and memories. While these links to the past can be reassuring for your loved one, the holidays can sometimes cause fear and anxiety for those with Alzheimer's.  

As a caregiver, you might have mixed feelings about the holidays. It gives your loved one more opportunity for connections, but you're worried about the extra demands the holidays can bring.  

If you're looking for a little extra help as a caregiver this holiday season, we've got you covered. In this post, you'll learn some holiday tips for Alzheimer's caregivers that can help bring more joy to your family this year.  

Talk to Family and Friends in Advance

While it's great that you're including your loved one in the family celebration, you might want to talk to the other guests in advance. It's natural to worry about how your loved one will react during holiday get-togethers. Start by explaining to guests that people with Alzheimer's don't always remember what is expected or acceptable.  

You'll also want to explain that your loved one may not remember names or specific relationships with people. But that doesn't mean your loved one can't enjoy the company of friends and family. Explain that this behavior is the result of a disease and these actions are not intentional. Towards the end of the conversation, remind your friends and family that what's important isn't what your loved one remembers, but the meaningful moments you share with them.  

Don't Make Too Many Holiday Commitments

When the holiday season rolls around, it's easy to get a packed schedule. Being too busy not only puts more stress on your loved one but it also adds to your stress as a caregiver. Take a look at your loved one's routine and your caregiving schedule. From there, work out what a healthy balance for your unique situation would be. For example, is going to a 20-person holiday dinner too much? It's okay for you to say no.  

If you're hosting your own event, you have the ability to be more flexible. You could invite less people this year or have other family members help out with the preparation. It's important that you don't overextend yourself.

Get Your Loved One More Involved

Alzheimer's and the holidays can be tough to balance. But the event can run more smoothly if you give your loved one a way to participate. From helping set the table to wrapping gifts, there are plenty of tasks that can help your loved one feel more valued. Next time you have an upcoming holiday party or get-together, stop and think. Brainstorm with your family about tasks or activities your loved one could be a part of.  

Play Familiar Music for Your Loved One

It's been proven that music can stir memories and emotions for people with Alzheimer's. Think about what you know about your loved one's life. Are there any songs during the holiday season that held great importance to them? Playing those songs can spark meaningful memories of the holiday season for your loved one. With music, you'll be providing your loved one with more opportunity to enjoy the season by connecting his or her past with the present.

Think About Crowd Size

For many seniors suffering from Alzheimer's, being in crowded areas can be difficult and cause  extra stress. This fact is especially true if your loved one has progressed to the later stages of the disease. Here are some things to consider about crowd size during the holiday season:  

Parties or Gatherings: If you're throwing your own party, try to keep it on the smaller side. Or if you plan on going to a party with your loved one, make sure to ask how many people are expected to come. Have a backup plan in case your loved one becomes overwhelmed.  

Shopping: It's a common holiday tradition to go shopping with loved ones. At crowded malls and stores, your loved one can become anxious, disoriented and even lost. If your loved one is interested in buying gifts, shop online or work together to make a list so you can go out and buy the gifts.

Discover Compassionate Memory Care at Willow Brook

We know that in-home care and the holidays can be a challenge to manage on your own. If you have a loved one struggling with Alzheimer's, Willow Brook’s adult day care program can provide daytime structure and support. Also our memory care services provides security, wellness and dignity. We have specially trained caregivers that will get to know your loved one on a personal level. From there, we can match our services and amenities to his or her individual needs.  

If you're interested in learning more about our adult day care or memory care communities, contact our team today. We're happy to answer any questions you may have about our services.