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Putting "Happy" Back In The Holidays, With Alzheimer's

Ramonia

By RAMONIA WILSON, RN BSN MS VR RC CC

Associate Director of Nurses, SYNERGY HomeCare Oklahoma

The holidays can be an emotional, challenging and stressful time for anyone.  With the shopping, the decorations, the errands, the parties and the church activities, there does not seem to be enough time in a day to do it all.  

Now, include caring for a spouse or family member with Alzheimer’s and the holidays can become overwhelming for an Oklahoma City senior home care provider

The night is not so silent, nothing is calm because the holiday lights you have just put up are so bright they provide too much stimuli for the family member with Alzheimer’s. This in turn leads them to becoming agitated and no one is sleeping in heavenly peace!  They’re stressed, you’re stressed and the holidays are not so “Happy” anymore for either of you.

Here are some tips to help you put the “Happy” back in “Happy Holidays” while managing the elder care of your spouse or family member with Alzheimer’s:

-- Ask for assistance. Use your resources for in home care. Other family members, friends, church members, and agencies can be utilized while you run some of your holiday errands. Schedule respite care. Talk to others and garner support for your mental and spiritual health.

-- Learn to say “No.” Do not feel you have to host or attend every party or holiday activity in Oklahoma City. If possible, pick and choose events that you really want to attend that may not have a crowd so that you can include your spouse or family member with Alzheimer’s. Large crowds may provide too much stimuli, causing confusion and agitation.

-- Decrease the amount of gifts you buy, cards you send out this year or the amount of decorations you display or hang. Decorations that include burning candles or ornaments that look like food can be a safety hazard and should not be used. When preparing cards for mailing, let your loved one put them in the envelope.

-- Involve your spouse or family member with Alzheimer’s in some of the holiday traditions, such as making cookies. Let them stir the batter or help with the more simple steps of wrapping a gift.  Make sure whatever activity you choose it is something within their capabilities and that would not cause agitation.

-- Start new traditions with your loved one. Get involved with the holiday activities that may be held at the senior day care community where your loved one is a resident. Spend time singing favorite holiday carols with your loved one.

-- Accept that you do not have to do it all, or do it as you used to do it. Sometimes adaptation and variation is required. However, keeping your spouse or family member with Alzheimer’s on as normal routine as possible will decrease and/or relieve their stress and agitation levels.

Remember that guilty feelings are unproductive, and can cause unnecessary stress. These tips are just a few coping strategies you can use to put the “Happy” back in your holiday season.

 

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