While the holidays are a time of joy and cheer, they can also cause stress for many.
Life stressors like workload, financial hardships, and disease do not simply disappear when the holidays roll around; sometimes, these burdens even feel more difficult between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
If your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, you know this all too well. We’ve compiled a few tips and tricks for navigating the holidays when your loved one has Alzheimer’s so that you can have a less stressful holiday season.
Create a Safe Space
Create an environment for your loved one that fosters a sense of safety and comfort. This means keeping decorations toned-down; avoid blinking lights or decorations that make sudden or loud noises. These can cause the person to become startled and confused.
Prepare Visitors with What to Expect
Keep your guests in the loop. Let them know about any changes in behavior, memory, or cognitive function since their last visit. Also make sure guests know how to communicate with the person. Remind them to be patient, not to become frustrated with repeated comments, and not to interrupt. It is important for your loved one to feel comfortable communicating with others, so make sure visitors also understand their role in fostering a comfortable environment for communication.
Keep Your Loved One Involved
Your loved one may become frustrated by their new lifestyle. Many feel that they have a lack of freedom, or that their loved ones are being overly cautious. Overcome this hurdle by involving your loved one in the preparation for the holidays. They can help prepare food, wrap gifts, decorate, or set the table. Ask for their opinions as well. What music should we listen to? Which holiday movie would you like to watch this evening? Should we roast or candy the yams?
Ask for Help
The holiday season cannot be enjoyable if you’re not taking care of yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from other family members – including your kids. Even if you ask them to do the little things like set the table, sweep the floor, pick up toys, or stick return labels on the holiday cards – something small can save you time and energy while cutting down on stress.
Make Time for Yourself
Don’t forget to take a break every now and then. Set aside 30 minutes to an hour of alone time per day. You can use this to go to the gym, take a bath, go for a walk, read a book, or even take a nap. Do something that makes you feel good at least once a day.
Your community is here to help as well. If you or a loved one are living with Alzheimer’s, consider a clinical trial for no-cost treatment. If you’re in the Baltimore area, you can sign up to learn more here.