Halloween is just a month away, and immediately, the major holiday season begins in the U.S.
Celebrating holidays with Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers is challenging. Probably no other holidays trigger the emotions of the elderly like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Maybe it is because these momentous holidays often dig up memories of their youth, or it reminds them of being together with an entire family, or loss of other loved ones.
These memorable occasions can bring laughter and joy, or they can become depressing and cause sorrow and tears. In addition, you might have children and other adults that don’t want to spend their holiday with someone who is suffering from a debilitating illness, such as Alzheimer’s. They might feel afraid, or they might not know what to say.
This article discusses how to enjoy the holidays with Alzheimer’s or dementia sufferers. You will learn what you can expect, and the best way to bring joy for everyone.
Alzheimer’s and Holiday Depression
Across the nation, people get into their cars and deal with heavy holiday traffic. They also endure crowded lines at the airport to try and visit family. During this same time, seniors who have Alzheimer’s or other related memory loss are sitting quietly in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or at home with a family member.
Some of them are also awaiting Thanksgiving or Christmas, but they realize that some or all of their family will have forgotten them. This can lead to holiday depression, and make their lives worse. What is the sense of living when your own family refuses to visit you? If you have a senior in an assisted living facility, or might be staying with someone else in your family, take the time to let them know you still love them and care about them. Try and visit them if you can, or at least call them.
Have a Talk with Your Kids
If you have kids of your own, you need to have a conversation with them about Alzheimer’s. The last thing that you want to happen is that they visit your elderly loved one and they feel uncomfortable around them. Alzheimer’s patients are also known to have emotional outbursts or yell at the ones they love. If you explain these situations to your kids in advance, they won’t feel frightened and might have a marvelous time.
3 Fabulous Ways to Enjoy the Holidays with Alzheimer’s Family Members
The best way to enjoy the holidays with an Alzheimer’s family member is preparation. You need to be ready for the encounter, and you need to simplify the time and activities for the best results. Here are some popular ideas:
• Enjoy a Quiet Time Together – You might first think that breaking out the CD player and music is a brilliant idea. Well, it might be if you are certain that this is something your loved one wants. Unfortunately, a lot of music or blinking Christmas lights can become distracting and annoying to some Alzheimer’s sufferers. Why not enjoy a quiet holiday? Save the party atmosphere for the New Year celebrations if your loved one can handle that.
• Share Photos – One terrific idea is to share photos. You can make photos of you and your family in advance and present them to your loved one. You can also use a digital camera and take some shots together with your senior loved one and bring along a decent printer and photo paper and give them an almost instant keepsake (You could also purchase another frame in advance for this purpose).
Speaking of sharing photos, why not dig out some of the old photos of your loved one when they were younger? You can get them digitally enhanced and framed. There is nothing better than having them looking at an event in their lifetime that meant so much to them.
• Skype with Other Members – If other family members couldn’t make it because they might live on the other end of the country with a big family of their own, why not connect them via the Internet? Skype has a powerful function that allows you to video chat with others for free. Skype also lets you make conference calls, so you can have multiple family members joining a call at the same time. That is an excellent way of bringing everyone together without breaking the piggy bank.
Holidays with Alzheimer’s – Conclusion
Make the best of your holidays with an Alzheimer’s family member. You can make it an enjoyable time for everyone. Remember to prepare most of your visit in advance.
Make sure you have photos ready. Check to see if your laptop and Skype are ready to roll, and contact your family members so they can all be online at the same time.
If you have kids, then you should educate them about Alzheimer’s. Holidays can also be sad times for many seniors. By following some of the suggestions in this article, you should be able to make it a memorable holiday for everyone in your family.