Holidays Present Unique Challenges for Individuals with Alzheimer’s
Wednesday, December 21 2011 6:49 AM
Did Thanksgiving this year leave you wondering if there are strategies you can put in place before your next family get-together to minimize confusion and anxiety for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease? If so, here are a few ideas and suggestions to keep in mind.
It’s important to remember that individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are most comfortable with routines, predictability and structure. Holiday events can be stressful if they alter everyday routines, are over-stimulating or increase interpersonal interaction. This is especially true if those who are doing the interacting are not familiar with Alzheimer’s disease or don’t know how to interact with a person with the disease. Click here to read Tips to feel more comfortable when visiting someone with Alzheimer’s disease
Holiday traditions may need to be modified in order to include a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Plan ahead. Attempt to limit the number of people who visit at one time. Plan visits during the time of day when your loved one is at his or her best.
Other strategies that caregivers can use to make holidays more pleasant for loved ones with Alzheimer’s include:
- Avoid crowds.
- Avoid changes in routine.
- Avoid strange surroundings—attend or plan an activity in an environment that is familiar to your loved one.
- Utilize distractions if over-stimulation becomes an issue. For example, have a small photo album on hand filled with familiar pictures.
Prepare visitors in advance. They may need to adjust their expectations of the visit. And they need to be sensitive to how this disease affects a person’s memory. You should also inform visitors of the impact the disease has had on your loved one’s ability to know what is expected and what is considered acceptable.
For more information on Alzheimer’s families and the holidays, visit www.alz.org/living_with_alzheimers_holidays
By Michelle Kutner, CSW, MSW, CTRS
Specialty Service Consultant
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