5 Alzheimer’s Holiday Survival Tips for Seniors and Their Family Caregivers

November 17th, 2016 No Comments

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New Jersey Memory Care Assistance

Many families start the holiday season by giving thanks, sharing laughter, and creating joyous memories. But for those who have Alzheimer’s disease, and for family members who care for them, these holiday sentiments may not be as effortless. For families who have loved ones battling Alzheimer’s disease, the holiday season can be a bittersweet time, often filled with frustration and stress. Holiday travel and festivities can easily agitate, confuse, and overwhelm people who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Meanwhile, both professional and family caregivers can feel overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated, and often lonely during the holiday season, which can lead to stress and depression.

If your loved ones are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, family and friends might not notice any changes in their behavior. However, if the disease has progressed into the middle or later stages, it can become more difficult to entertain guests or plan meaningful family activities around the limitations caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

In recognition of both National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and Family Caregiver’s Month, Visiting Angels offers these 5 holiday survival tips for both caregivers of—and for—seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of memory loss.

Holiday Survival Tips

1.) Avoid holiday stress by planning ahead. The stress of the holiday season, coupled with caregiving responsibilities, can take a toll. People who typically experience holiday stress are those that give little thought to the challenges they’ll encounter. Consider planning ahead for what may be expected of you, both socially and emotionally. Talk with family and close friends about holiday celebrations in advance. Whether you’re hosting or visiting during the holidays plan to stay on a regular routine.

2.) Prepare your loved one who has Alzheimer’s for family festivities. Preparing your loved one for upcoming family gatherings can allow both of you to share a memory and enjoy the warmth of the season. Be sure to play familiar holiday music, talk about past holidays, and share photos of relatives and friends past and present. This will help encourage good thoughts and memories. Have a plan in place if your loved one starts getting agitated—too many people and loud conversations can cause anxiety.

3.) Communicate successfully during the holidays. Allow your loved one who has Alzheimer’s to be a part of the conversation. Alzheimer’s disease can diminish a person’s ability to communicate, so encourage family members to remain calm and supportive when a loved one has trouble speaking.

4.) Consult a doctor before traveling with a person who has Alzheimer’s. Traveling during the holidays can be overwhelming and stressful for even the healthiest person. But caregivers shouldn’t rule out travel altogether. Consult with your loved one’s doctor about things you can do to help them through the travel process before booking a flight and packing your bags.

5.) Don’t make too many holiday commitments. As a family caregiver, you already face many challenges in order to balance daily life demands and attempt to adhere to a schedule. Be sure not to lose sight of this when planning for the holidays. For example, if you plan to host a holiday dinner, consider inviting fewer people, or ask another relative or friend to host the event this year.

For families and caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s, who need an extra source of support and information can call the Alzheimer Association 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900.

If you have a parent or other loved one who is battling the stages of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and could use additional care in the comfort of their home, contact Visiting Angels. We offer professional, individualized, home care senior living assistance to adults and seniors throughout Mercer and Burlington Counties, New Jersey.

For additional Alzheimer’s care tips, check out our blog post: “Alzheimer’s Memory Care: 6 Tips to Help.”


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