NEW YORK, Dec. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The holidays are a wonderful time when family and friends come together, but for families living with Alzheimer's and other dementias, the holidays can be challenging. With some planning and adjusted expectations, holiday celebrations can still be happy, memorable occasions.
Talk to friends and family before they arrive
Explain that your loved one with dementia may have trouble following conversation or tend to repeat him or herself. Everyone can help by being patient, not interrupting or correcting, and giving the person time to finish his or her thoughts. Help visitors understand that in the middle or late stages of Alzheimer's, there may be significant changes in cognitive abilities since the last time an out-of-town friend or relative has visited.
The stress of caregiving responsibilities layered with holiday traditions can take a toll. Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. Make sure everyone understands your caregiving situation and has realistic expectations about what you can do. Be honest about any limitations or needs, such as keeping a daily routine.
Involve the person with dementia
Focus on activities that are meaningful to the person with dementia. Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs or looking through old photo albums. As the person's abilities allow, invite him or her to help you prepare food, wrap packages, help decorate or set the table.
Adapt gift giving
Items the person with dementia needs or can easily enjoy include: an identification bracelet (available through MedicAlert® + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return®), comfortable clothing, audio tapes of favorite music, videos and photo albums. If friends or family ask what you want for a gift, suggest a gift certificate for a cleaning or household chore service, an offer to provide respite care, or something that provides you with a bit of rest and relaxation.
When the person lives in a care facility
Consider joining your loved one in any facility-planned holiday activities. Bring a favorite holiday food to share, sing holiday songs and ask if other residents can join in or read a favorite holiday story or poem out loud.
See www.alz.org/nyc for additional ideas on how to prepare for the changes Alzheimer's brings or call the Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900 whenever you have questions or need support.
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SOURCE Alzheimer’s Association - NYC Chapter