The holidays are officially upon us, bringing families together to relive memories and make new ones. However, for families who are caregiving on Christmas for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, the holidays can often be frustrating and stressful.
The disruption to our routines can confuse and overstimulate people with dementia, leaving them agitated and their caregiver stressed. In some cases, the holidays can contribute to anxiety and depression.
A Caregiving on Christmas Checklist
This checklist can help relieve some of that anxiety and stress, making the holidays more enjoyable and helping caregivers and seniors with dementia enjoy precious time with family and friends:
- Arrange for in-home care or respite care to take time for yourself.
- Attend an Alzheimer’s support group to find people who are in similar situations who can relate to your stress and concerns.
- Create a holiday playlist of favorite music that will be familiar to your loved one.
- Create even lighting and avoid twinkling or flashing lights which can be disorientating.
- Create a quiet place for your loved one with dementia to escape to if a family gathering or social event becomes too overwhelming.
- Discuss holiday plans with family and friends well in advance of events.
- Don’t be afraid to say no and set limits with loved ones, letting them know what you need to do reduce stress this holiday.
- Give family and friends useful gift ideas, including music, photos or videos, or easy-to-remove clothing.
- Go through old photo albums with your loved one to engage them in the holidays.
- Have honest conversations with family and friends about the health of your loved one.
- Keep your routine the same as much as possible.
- Let the family know your schedule and try to stick to it as much as possible.
- Reach out for help and support when you need it. Families can call the Alzheimer’s Association at 727-578-2558 or the 24-hour Helpline at 1-800-772-8672 to answer questions about warning signs and to assist persons with dementia and caregivers. The Helpline will be open all Christmas Day and New Years Day, as well as year-round.
- Serve traditional holiday foods or family recipes that your loved one may remember.
- Use familiar modes of transportation if traveling and avoid busy travel times.
- Walk through the best ways to communicate with your loved one before visitors arrive.
What would you add to our checklist to ensure a successful celebration while caregiving on Christmas? We’d like to hear your tips in the comments below.