Holiday Tips for Families Living with Alzheimer's or Dementia
If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you may have to change the family traditions to ensure everyone has the best season possible. The key is to lower expectations, create new activities, and know how you will celebrate, long before the holidays roll around.
Jamie Lopez, vice president of healthcare, Constant Care Family Management - the property management company for Autumn Leaves memory care communities offers tips that can help families that have loved ones with Alzheimer’s:
• If taking a loved one out of the normal environment is disruptive or creates anxiety, consider an intimate gathering at home with minimal stimulation.
• If a loved one is in an assisted living community, create a new experience that includes a family visit with a gift exchange and activities in the assisted living community.
• Always stay mindful of safety issues—loved ones with Alzheimer’s may mistake decorative fruit, trees, plants and scented candles for food.
• Consider an adult day stay or short respite stay at a memory care community if you want to attend a large family outing that may cause stress or anxiety for your loved one. Try a few hours of day stay a week leading up to event to get your family member used to the environment.
• Create activities your family can enjoy together—give your loved one wrapping paper and tape to wrap gifts, decorate pine cones, bake bread or cookies. Customize the activities for your loved one, and embrace the outcome, even if the activities may not go as planned. Take pictures to document the bonding experience, and to help you see the benefits of the interaction.
Families are encouraged to start thinking about the holidays early and come up with a plan as soon as possible. Focus has to change and transitioning into a different way of approaching the holidays is crucial.