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Alzheimer's Tips: How to Care for a Loved One This Holiday Season
Date: November 21, 2011
By: Jennifer Smith

The holidays can be bittersweet for families affected by Alzheimer’s. Consider these simple tips to make the Christmas season more enjoyable for everyone.

The holiday season should be filled with good cheer for families everywhere. However, we all know that the stress of Christmas gift giving, decorating and entertaining can add up. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be one more additional stress during this time for celebration. The Alzheimer’s Association California Southland Chapter reminds families that, “By using ‘an ounce of prevention,’ caregivers can alleviate some of the misery and frustration.” Consider the following tips to make the holidays easier for everyone:

1. Set Expectations: Familiarize and educate friends and families with the situation of your loved one. You can inform them about the situation by writing a simple note.

2. Adapt Gift Giving: Make things easier for your loved one by giving them the gifts he/she really needs. Share a list of useful gifts that will make living easier with your family and friends. Helpful gifts may include: a handheld showerhead, a shower chair, slip-on shoes with Velcro, video of family get-togethers or a bright cardigan sweater.

3. Prepare: Keep your loved one aware of upcoming holiday events. Let them know that friends and family will be coming by to celebrate the season. Spread the Christmas cheer by playing familiar music and making their favorite seasonal foods.

4. Plan for “Down Time”: Relish the quiet moments with your loved one. Take time out to take a walk around the neighborhood or share old holiday photos.

5. Streamline Your Traditions: Simplify the season. Consider holding a smaller gathering with close family and loved ones. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Instead of cooking an entire holiday meal, throw a potluck dinner where everyone can bring their own favorite dish.

6. Involve the Person with Dementia: Spend some quality time together by performing tasks your loved one can help with. Be sure to allow plenty of time so your loved one doesn’t feel rushed. Christmas activities may include: baking cookies, wrapping gifts, setting the table or decorating the tree.

7. Timing is Everything: Celebrate earlier in the day to reduce the risk of confusion. Consider throwing a holiday lunch instead of a dinner party.

8. Give Yourself a Gift: There’s nothing wrong with taking some time off for yourself. Arrange for private home care and take a day off to enjoy Christmas shopping with friends or a holiday movie.

For more information, call the Alzheimer’s Association at (800) 272-3900.

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