Alzheimer’s and the Holidays

How can I help my senior loved with dementia enjoy the holidays? Coping with Alzheimer’s disease is difficult on any given day, but add in disruptions to routine, additional visitors, decorations, and noise, and you might just have a recipe for elevated agitation, stress, and discomfort. The answer to a pleasant holiday for your household as well as your senior loved one with Alzheimer’s lies in pre-planning, remaining flexible, and adjusting expectations.

The Alzheimer’s Association provides a number of helpful suggestions to make certain individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and those who care for them, are able to enjoy the holiday season to the fullest.

  • Bring loved ones and close friends up to speed. For those who haven’t spent time lately with your senior loved one, it’s worthwhile to ensure they know what changes they could expect to see. It could be beneficial to send out an email or letter to each individual you’ll see over the holidays, with specific details such as, “You may observe that Aunt Gertrude has changed since your previous visit. She may confuse you with someone else, and she may display some challenging behaviors, such as aggression or agitation at loud, unexpected noises. Please remember that this is an element of the disease, and in no way intentional or a reflection of your relationship.”
  • Check in with the senior often. Focus on your loved one’s body language, and make certain to step in when required. Sometimes moving to a less noisy room to rest is helpful. Even when the senior seems relaxed and content, it is best to periodically ask simply, “How are you doing?” to prevent any possible issues before they arise.
  • Keep the senior engaged. If at all possible, include the senior in the activities other family members are engaging in, whether singing holiday songs, opening gifts, reminiscing, or watching holiday classics. Typically, long-term memory remains intact even when short-term memory is decreased, and holiday traditions such as these may ignite renewed interest and enthusiasm.
  • Think through gift suggestions very carefully. For a senior with dementia, even the most harmless gift might be dangerous. It is best to stick to necessities: a warm blanket, a favorite kind of food, comfy slippers. If members of the family ask for specific gift suggestions, the gift of respite care is one that is always welcome! A professional home care agency, like Home With You Senior Care, can offer gift certificates for specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care – providing a priceless gift for both the senior and his or her members of the family.

For additional tips and resources related to making the holiday season as pleasant as you possibly can for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, connect with Home With You Senior Care. Our care team offers expert dementia care in Howard County and the surrounding areas and is highly trained in the most compassionate, patient, and creative care techniques to help seniors stay as safe, independent, and engaged as possible. Call us now at 410-756-0959 for more information about our top-rated Howard County senior care and the communities we serve.