Spending moments with family and friends during the holidays is cherished. Even for people in the early or middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease, togetherness has special meaning. However, seniors with Alzheimer’s disease may feel a poignant loss, given the changes triggered by this devastating illness.
Celebrating the holidays can still be a joyful event for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s. Family members, too, are gifted with the chance to spend another holiday with the senior they love. Following holiday tips designed to promote ease for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers help the festivities run smoothly.
1. Assess Holiday Options
An outgoing senior who once thrived in social settings may withdraw when Alzheimer’s takes its course. When planning the holiday party, check in with the elderly individual to determine how best to organize this year’s celebrations. Needs are unique and may change as the years progress.
A large gathering may be in the works, for instance. However, keep in mind that individuals with Alzheimer’s may feel more at ease in intimate spaces. A lively holiday party can still be thrown but be mindful to create a small gathering space to which the senior may retreat.
Tailor the holiday bash so that the party coincides with the senior’s established routine. On the day of and days surrounding the celebration, maintain the schedule of the individual with Alzheimer’s. Consider that a quiet and relaxed holiday gathering may be more suitable for the senior.
Family caregivers who plan to attend a festivity with their senior loved one should be prepared to leave early or plan to keep attendance brief. If extending time spent at the party, be sure to find a rest spot for the senior to take frequent breaks from the commotion.
2. Decorate with Care
If planning to host a flamboyant get together, be prepared to alter the setting in order to respect the challenges the senior living with Alzheimer’s faces. Several typical holiday decorations can cause a range of adverse reactions in the person with dementia.
Strings of blinking lights are a festive touch; however flashing bulbs will confuse the senior with Alzheimer’s disease. Wrap lights with steadfast luminosity around the tree instead. Animated yard décor will frighten seniors with dementia, so replace the oversized snowman with natural decorations.
Cautiously hang precious ornaments. Faux ornaments, like gingerbread men, and bright, round ornaments may resemble food. Prevent a choking situation by either hanging delicate ornaments high on the tree where the senior is unlikely to reach or refrain from hanging them altogether.
3. Prepare Guests
Alzheimer’s disease advances gradually. Over a few years, the condition can severely alter a senior’s personality, communication skills, and cognitive abilities. Family members who have not seen the senior in a while may be startled by the new demeanor. Keep guests apprised of the situation before their arrival.
A memorable holiday can be created by explaining to guests that their loved one may fail to remember names, faces and places due to the onset of dementia; however, the senior still appreciates their visit. Send a recent photo of the senior as an additional way to prepare the guests.
A large number of guests may be overwhelming for the senior with Alzheimer’s. Prevent unease by allowing a few people, or even one person, at a time into the elderly individual’s visiting area. Also prepare a space for the senior to spend time alone during the guest-filled holiday event.
4. Adjust Activities
As mentioned, a quiet, relaxed holiday atmosphere may be more appropriate for a senior with Alzheimer’s. A wide range of meaningful activities may still be enjoyed together; however, these pursuits should be adapted to meet the current needs of the senior.
Family caregivers might spend the day watching holiday movies with their senior loved one. Flipping through treasured photo albums together pleasantly takes seniors down memory lane. Create a precious moment by spending time reading a favorite holiday story to the senior.
Holiday cheer is readily spread when festive music is played. Be careful to tone down the volume of the music, as loud sounds can distress the senior with Alzheimer’s. Singing merry tunes together is another enjoyable activity that will keep seniors with a love for music engaged and contented.
Attempting to handle the many details of hosting or attending celebrations with an individual with Alzheimer’s disease can be stressful for a family caregiver to handle alone. Caregivers who are realistic about expectations and contributions significantly reduce the stresses of the season.
Share the tasks of cleaning, shopping and preparing the family home with others. Ask friends and relatives to lend a hand during the days and weeks ahead of the holiday gatherings. Breaks from caregiving responsibilities are critical to restoring one’s energy and outlook during this hectic time.
Home Help During the Holidays
A family caregiver who turns to memory care during the holidays benefits both herself and her loved one with Alzheimer’s. Upon a brief break, the family member is refreshed, giving her the renewed focus to tend to the senior with care and attention.
The dementia care provider that families trust most is Assisting Hands Home Care. Our memory caregivers are experienced in compassionately assisting seniors with Alzheimer’s disease. When the senior wanders, our caregivers will gently guide them. An agitated senior is calmed by our caregivers, who are trained to identify the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
A family caregiver requires time to shop for holiday gifts or make arrangements to attend celebrations. In such instances, leave caregiving to the professionals at Assisting Hands Home Care. Our dedicated memory caregivers will bathe, dress and groom your loved one in preparation for the festivities.
Caregiving may be brief, such as in respite care; or, services may extend indefinitely. In either case, Assisting Hands Home Care is prepared to deliver the most compassionate Alzheimer’s and dementia care services to your loved one living with the illness. Families in the northern suburbs of Illinois turn to our home care agency for the best in memory care.
For a free consultation regarding our memory care services, contact Assisting Hands Home Care in Schaumburg, IL at (847) 448-0844. We proudly serve Schaumburg, Park Ridge, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Rolling Meadows, IL and the surrounding Chicago suburbs.