Alzheimer’s and the Holidays
While for most people this can be a wonderful time of the year, for those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers, it can be a challenge. Here are some things that might make things a little easier for everyone:
- Keep it calm!Limiting the number of visitors to 1 or 2 people at a time is important.Also, turn off the television and radio and ask any non-visitors to go to another room.Too much activity and commotion can have a very negative effect on the older adult.
- Schedule visits for the time of day when the senior is usually at their best.Many people with dementia are better in the earlier part of the day.
- Make sure the visitors know in advance to speak softly, make eye contact, and stay at their eye level.Short sentences with only one idea per sentence are usually best.
- Visitors should introduce themselves even if they’re sure they must know you.
- Ask open-ended questions making sure to give the senior time to answer.Avoid subjects that might be controversial or painful.No need to bring up any type of past issues or problems.
- Good memories from the past are more likely to be remembered than more current events.
- Follow their lead - allow them to direct the conversation even if the things they talk about are untrue or don’t make sense.
- If you have a photo album or music that you feel the senior would enjoy, bring it along!
- Be sure not to contradict or argue if they say something that you disagree with - let it go!
- Have a thick skin if they say something that’s hurtful or mean.Again - let it go.
- Don’t assume they don’t remember anything - many people afflicted with Alzheimer’s or dementia have very lucid periods where they remember quite clearly.
- If you’re the primary caregiver don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be shy about accepting help when it’s offered.
- Show them the respect they deserve.
This can be a very difficult and stressful time of year, but if you lower your expectations and remain thankful for the blessings in your life it can also be a time of great happiness.