Reducing Holiday Stress for Alzheimer’s Families: How Families Affected by Alzheimer’s Can Prepare for Joyous Celebrations

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While holiday celebrations are often joyous occasions, they can be challenging and stressful for the millions of families living with Alzheimer’s. Families and friends may be unsure of how to involve their loved one with Alzheimer’s in activities without overwhelming them (or others). With some planning and adjusted expectations, the holidays can still be joyous for everyone.

A person in the early-stage of the disease 

In the early stage, a person living with Alzheimer’s may withdraw and be less comfortable socializing, while others may relish seeing family and friends as before. The key is to check in with each other and discuss options. A simple “How are you doing?” or “How are you coping with everything?” may be appreciated.

As the disease progresses into the middle and late stages, review your holiday plans to ensure they are still a good fit. Everyone is unique and finding a plan that works can involve trial and error.

Sarah Cameron, Care and Support Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley Chapter, said, “It is important to plan ahead and make sure people living with the disease are getting a break if there is a lot of stimulation. This could be as simple as having a room or space for the diagnosed individual to decompress or allowing some time for some one-on-one conversations instead of in a big group. Most importantly, continue to involve your loved ones in your holiday traditions. It is such a wonderful time of year to make memories together.” 

When a person lives in a care facility

If  your loved one cannot leave the facility for the holiday, find ways to bring your family or your traditions to the facility. Here are some ways to celebrate together:

  • Consider joining your loved one in any facility-planned holiday activities
  • Bring a favorite holiday food to share
  • Sing holiday songs and ask if other residents can join in
  • Read a favorite holiday story or poem out loud

For more tips, go to https://www.alz.org/help-support/resources/holidays or call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.

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