Caring for your Aging Loved Ones this Holiday Season...
The holidays are a time when families reconnect to enjoy festive traditions. But for those whose family has a member suffering from dementia, the holidays can be more frustrating than fun. Don't let those frustrations get in the way of spending quality time with your family!
All you need is some proper planning and adjustment among expectations to make the holidays more memorable for you and for them!
Even though your family member is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, keep them a part of the normal traditions. Keep old photo books around to show them and hum or sing the classical holiday songs. Some people will find comfort in building on the traditional activities.
While keeping in mind their capabilities, involve them as much as possible with the preparation of the holiday. Simple activities such as gift wrapping, cooking, table setup or decorations will help to make them feel useful. You don’t have to make them do too much; they can help measure food or place simple decorations on the table. Make sure you aren’t using bright or distracting lights throughout your home as these may confuse and startle those with dementia.
Even though the holidays are very active and different, try to stick to their normal routine as much as possible. Do not overwhelm them with too much work and give them time to rest.
Unfortunately the holidays won’t be exactly like they used to be, but that doesn’t mean they can no longer be exciting or fun. Call others who you will be spending the holidays with and make sure you are all on the same page with the schedule and requirements that come with your job of being the caregiver. This will allow others to see your limitations and not overwhelm you with difficult tasks.
Allow yourself to breathe. You shouldn’t not enjoy the holidays because you want to make sure that everyone is happy and healthy. If you are always the host for your family and invite 15 or more guests, you may want to cut that number down. Make sure you can manage what you are taking on. It is okay to ask others to help, and even ask if they can host this year instead of yourself.
Keep Others Updated
It’s best to give the other guests a heads-up with what they are going to be expecting upon arrival.
The holidays are constantly filled with emotions, so make sure you aren’t surprising anyone. Your guests may not be able to notice when a person is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. However those diagnosed with dementia will have a tendency to repeat themselves or not be able to follow a conversation. Be patient, don’t interrupt or correct them, and allow them to finish their stories and thoughts.
If the Alzheimer is in the middle to later stages, their condition may be more obvious to those around, especially if the guests live out of town and rarely visit. Inform those that the changes among their memory and behavior are from the disease and not themselves.
Find Appropriate Gifts
Find something useful, safe and easy to use. Buying a CD, comfortable clothing, framed photographs of old photos or anything along those lines will be more beneficial than something extravagant.
When people ask what you’d like for the holidays, ask for something that will allow you sometime to relax. A cleaning service, or even an offer to give you a break from being the caregiver can all help you tremendously with staying sane.
If your family member is in an assisted living facility, consider being with them during the holidays. Take a part in their community’s holiday extravaganzas, sing along to holiday music and ask if others could join, bring a favorite holiday treat to share or even read a holiday story or poem for them to enjoy.
If all of that seems too stressful, and you find yourself thinking you can't be a caregiver for much longer, DON'T FEEL GUILTY!! Call Tennyson Court to find out more about our Memory Care community, and how even a respite stay might relieve some of those feelings of guilt.
Call us today at 716-389-1010 or Check out our Try Tennyson Program!!