Tips to celebrate holidays with an Alzheimer's patient

The holidays are a time full of celebration, joy and special occasions with family and friends. But for people living with Alzheimer's disease, the season can present special challenges.The Alzheimer's Association, California Southland Chapter has prepared "Home for the Holidays," a handy guide with tips and advice for families caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. "Home for the Holidays" is available for download through the chapter's website at or by calling (800) 272-3900. Anyone with questions about Alzheimer's is encouraged to call the 800-number as well. Experts are available to speak about cognitive health and can assist family members and friends seeking information or resources. Highlights from the "Home for the Holidays" guide: Caregiving responsibilities layered on top of keeping up with holiday traditions can take their toll on Alzheimer families, especially on the caregivers. With some preparation, your celebrations can be filled with joy and magical moments to cherish. Adjust Your Expectations - No one, including yourself, should expect you to maintain every holiday tradition or event. Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage Choose holiday activities and traditions that are most important to you Host a small family dinner instead of throwing a big holiday party Consider serving a catered or takeout holiday meal. Many grocery stores and restaurants offer meals to go Start a new tradition. Host a potluck dinner where family or friends each bring a dish Involve the Affected Individual in Holiday Festivities - People with memory loss can often share in activities. Here are a few ideas: Wrap gifts Bake favorite holiday recipes together. The person can stir batter or decorate cookies Set the table. Avoid centerpieces with candles and artificial fruits and berries that could be mistaken for edible snacks Talk about events to include in a holiday letter Prepare simple foods such as appetizers Read holiday cards you received together Look through photo albums or scrapbooks. Reminisce about people in the pictures and past events Watch a favorite holiday movie together Sing seasonal carols or read passages from favorite books When the Person Lives in a Care Facility - A holiday is still a holiday whether it is celebrated at home or at a care facility. Here are some ways to celebrate together: Join your loved one at the facility-planned holiday activities Bring a favorite holiday food to share Sing holiday songs. Ask if other residents can join in Read a favorite holiday story or poem out loud The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization committed to research, care and support for those living with Alzheimer's disease and their families.

********** Published: November 24, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 32