Caregiving and the Holidays

Most of us look forward to the holiday season with eager anticipation and remember past celebrations with fondness and happy memories.

However, high expectations we have for the upcoming holidays can set the scene for some stressful moments and big disappointments, especially if we are caring for a loved one with dementia.

Last week in our blog we talked about informing guests about changes in their loved one‘s behavior before they arrive. In this article we want to talk about adjusting our expectations so we can still enjoy the holiday season but be realistic about what we can and can’t do. These suggestions are from the Alzheimer’s Association.Planning ahead can help create happy Christmas moments.

Invite family members to a planning meeting

The responsibility of keeping up family traditions can be stressful enough but combining it with already overwhelming caregiving duties can create tremendous stress.

  • Ask family and friends to a face-to-face meeting to talk about plans for the holidays, or
  • Set up a telephone conference call if family live out of towm
  • Make sure you explain your caregiving situation.
    • This doesn’t necessarily mean people will understand but even if they don’t, that is their problem and not yours.
  • Have realistic expectations about what you can do.
  • Be honest about any limitations or needs, such as the importance of keeping a daily routine for your loved one.

Be good to yourself

  • Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. You may have invited 15 to 20 people over in the past, but think about having only a few people come at a time.
    • Smaller visits of two or three people at a time will help keep the person with Alzheimer’s and yourself from getting overtired.
  • Have everyone coming bring something so that you don’t have to cook.
  • Ask them to host Christmas festivities at their homes if they don’t offer.Dementia Care Utah

Be flexible

  • If evening confusion and agitation are a problem, consider changing a holiday dinner into a holiday lunch or brunch.
  • If you do keep the celebration at night, keep the room well-lit and try to avoid any known triggers.
  • Remember it’s alright not do the things you have “always” done in the past.
  • It is alright to decline invitations if you and your loved one don’t feel up to them.

With some planning and preparing, you and your loved one can create enjoyable moments this holiday season. To connect with other caregivers and get ideas on caregiving during the holidays ideas visit Alz-Connected.

At Aspen Senior Care we have caregivers trained in dementia care.  Our sister company, the Aspen Senior Center of Provo has a specially designed program for seniors with memory loss. We provide fun, engaging activities, music and lunch, plus peace of mind for families caring for loved ones with memory loss. Please visit the center or call us at (801) 607-2300 for more information. Visit our Aspen Senior Center Facebook page to see some of the fun activities they do!

The holidays are a joyous time for many, but for families dealing with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia the holidays can be very stressful and depressing.

The Alzheimer’s Association has some great suggestions to help family caregivers and their loved ones enjoy the holidays as well.

We’ll be focusing on a different idea each week throughout the next two months so make sure and check back often.

Explain the situation before hand

This special time of year brings many emotions with it. It might be helpful to let extended family and other guests know what to expect before they arrive.

  1. If the person is in the early stages of dementia, changes in appearance and behavior may not be noticeable, but the person with dementia may have trouble following conversations or may repeat the same thing over and over.
    • Explaining the situation ahead of time and  encouraging family and friends to be patient, respectful and allow the person time to finish his or her thoughts with out interrupting or correcting will help him or her feel part of the group.
  2. A loved one in more advanced stages of dementia will have noticeable changes in behavior that may be difficult for loved ones who haven’t seen him or her for awhile to accept. It’s important to help family and friends understand that the behavior and memory changes are from the disease they have and not the person.Planning ahead can help create happy Christmas moments.

Write a letter  or send an email to family and friends

It might be easier to create an email to send out to family and friends explaining the changes that have occurred, what to expect and the most positive things family members can do to make their visit a pleasant one.  Some examples of letters:

  • “I’m writing to let you know how things are going at our house. While we’re looking forward to your visit, we thought it might be helpful if you understood our current situation before you arrive.”
  • “You may notice that ___ has changed since you last saw him/her. Among the changes you may notice are ___.”
  • “Please understand that ___ may not remember who you are and may confuse you with someone else. Please don’t feel offended by this. He/she appreciates your being with us and so do I.” (www.alz.org)

For more ideas on helping extended family and friends understand the changes their loved one with dementia is experiencing visit Alz-Connectedcaregiving-through-the-holidays

At Aspen Senior Care we have caregivers trained in dementia care.  Our sister company,
the
 Aspen Senior Center of Provo has a specially designed program for seniors with memory loss. We provide fun, engaging activities, music and lunch, plus peace of mind for families caring for loved ones with memory loss. Please visit the center or or call us at (801) 607-2300 for more information. Visit our Aspen Senior Center Facebook page to see some of the fun activities they do!