Celebrating at home or planning a visit? These important dementia-care tips can help make your holiday season the best possible.
Holidays are bittersweet for many Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers. The happy memories of the past contrast with the difficulties of the present, and extra demands on time and energy can seem overwhelming. Finding a balance between rest and activity can help. Here are some tips from the U.S. National Institutes of Health:
- Keep or adapt family traditions that are important to you.
- Include the person with Alzheimer's as much as possible.
- Recognize that things will be different, and have realistic expectations about what you can do.
- Encourage friends and family to visit. Limit the number of visitors at one time, and try to schedule visits during the time of day when the person is at his or her best.
- Avoid crowds, changes in routine, and strange surroundings that may cause confusion or agitation.
- Do your best to enjoy yourself. Try to find time for the holiday things you like to do, even if it means asking a friend or family member to spend time with the person while you are out.
- At larger gatherings such as weddings or family reunions, try to have a space available where the person can rest, be by themselves, or spend some time with a smaller number of people, if needed.
Visiting a Person with a Dementia like Alzheimer'sVisitors are important to people with Alzheimer's. They may not always remember who the visitors are, but just the human connection has value. Here are some ideas to share with someone who is planning to visit a person with Alzheimer's.
- Plan the visit at the time of the day when the person is at his or her best. Consider bringing along some kind of activity, such as something familiar to read or photo albums to look at, but be prepared to skip it if necessary.
- Be calm and quiet. Avoid using a loud tone of voice or talking to the person as if he or she were a child. Respect the person's personal space and don't get too close.
- Try to establish eye contact and call the person by name to get his or her attention. Remind the person who you are if he or she doesn't seem to recognize you.
- If the person is confused, don't argue. Respond to the feelings you hear being communicated, and distract the person to a different topic if necessary.
- If the person doesn't recognize you, is unkind, or responds angrily, remember not to take it personally. He or she is reacting out of confusion.