Debra Drelich, LMSW, CMC, CADDACT
Holidays can be times of great joy or great stress for families of those suffering from memory loss. The key to surviving the holiday season is by planning, by learning to ask for and to accept help, and above all to remember that things may not be as perfect as they once were.
Here are a few tips:
Focus on what they can still do and enjoy. Include them in the planning of the celebration by getting their input on the menu (use some of their recipes), preparing the guest list, or choosing decorations. This will give them purpose and increase their excitement about celebrating the upcoming holiday.
Other activities might include looking at pictures of past holiday gatherings, helping with food prep and reviving old “customs” such as watching favorite holiday movies.
Prepare your guests in advance about the changes in your loved one and reconcile yourself as well.
Try to keep a routine in your loved one’s schedule. If they are known to “sundown”, schedule the meals earlier in the day.
If they are forgetful of names, make nametags, and prepare a small photo album of pictures of the guests that they can look at in advance.
Caregivers should take some needed “respite” time during extended visits, by going for a walk, journaling, or enjoying a spa day activity with their loved one, or just by themselves.
Best wishes for a healthy and joyous holiday season,
Debbie Drelich is a licensed master social worker, a Sharp Again Naturally Board member, and Founder of New York Elder Care Consultants LLC.
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