Holidays and Alzheimer’s: Tips for Navigating Family Celebrations

Though it is a time of joy and togetherness, the holidays can also be hectic, stressful, and downright exhausting. Add in being a caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer’s, and the holiday season can become even more daunting. Fortunately, there are some tips and techniques to keep things running as smoothly as possible.

It is important to prepare extended family members who will be attending gatherings alongside your loved one with Alzheimer’s. It may have been a long time since they saw the loved one, and are unfamiliar with the changes that have taken place in the meantime. Call them up ahead of time and explain the issues that they might experience, and alert them to any possible dangers or triggers associated with your loved one. This helps to avoid awkwardness and hurt feelings, and helps extended family have time to accept the personality changes rather than being surprised and saddened with it face to face.

Photo: YouTube/ alztex
Photo: YouTube/alztex

Adjusting expectations goes a long way towards having a happy holiday season. We all have a vision of the “perfect” holiday, and we have certain traditions that we hold onto. These visions may need to be tempered, though, if your loved one with Alzheimer’s is no longer able to take part in some beloved traditions. Certain decorations may now frighten them, though they’ve seen them for many years prior. Going to church, cooking their signature foods, or going caroling may be extremely difficult for them now. It may be time to let go of some old traditions, and find ways to create new ones.

Image: YouTube/alztex
Photo: YouTube/alztex

Involving your loved one with Alzheimer’s in family holiday celebrations is vital. Do activities that are meaningful for them; involve them with meal prep if they desire, involve them in games and singing and watching holiday movies. Find the aspect of the celebration that brings them the most joy, and focus on that activity. Those moments of togetherness and belonging are what the holidays are all about, after all.

See the video below for more tips on making this holiday season great!

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