The holidays can be stressful, but Alzheimer’s Tennessee is here to help. Here you’ll find some helpful hints to make the holiday season merry for your loved one.
You can also simplify your holiday shopping – while supporting a good cause – by participating in the NEW Smoky Mountain Memories Online Auction from December 6th through the 11th. Bid on antiques, jewelry, entertainment, and more: click here to browse! Special thanks to Thompson Carr Auction for making this possible.
Or, if you’d like to help make the holidays brighter for care facility residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia, click here for information on the Big Red Bow Project!
Tips for the Holidays
For the Person with Dementia
- Take some time out to relax
- Do what you enjoy
- Consider letting people know when you need a break or are having trouble
- Make a list with your partner of what you would like to do this season, and use the list to help keep on track
- Consider saying, “I know I know you, but I just can’t place you…” when someone greets you and you aren’t sure who they are to you
- Watch or listen to old, familiar music, movies, or TV programs that make you feel good
- Get some exercise and plenty of water each and every day
- Be careful about too many sweets & treats
- Work with a partner to do familiar and fun holiday activities (for example, making, signing, or mailing cards OR making up mixes with recipes to share OR baking something and wrapping it)
For the Care Partner
- Keep gatherings smaller & visits shorter
- Offer time out
- Make a list of pleasures to do
- Help visitors understand before they begin interacting
- Encourage going out and doing something fun, rather than just talking
- Ask visitors to bring old pictures, old familiar items or props, and be prepared to reminisce about old times
- Consider cutting back on traditions if they seem distressing
- Help visitors out by introducing them with some orienting information, if they forget to do so
- Exercise and watch your stress levels
- Get a friend to help the person with dementia select gifts, shop, or do something special for loved ones, including you!
For the Visitor
- Start off by looking friendly and offering your hand in a handshake
- Introduce yourself by NAME, not relationship. Then PAUSE; if the person still doesn’t seem to know you, give them a little more background
- Use shorter phrases and PAUSE between thoughts or ideas, giving the person a chance to respond
- Talk about old times more than recent ones
- Keep memories positive, if possible
- Accept “general comments”, don’t push for specifics
- Don’t correct errors, go with the flow of the conversation
- Be prepared to hear old stories over and over; use old pictures or props to bring up other old memories…and laugh!
- Do something with the person rather than just talking to them
- If the person says something distressing or seems worried about something, realize it may not be true, but they are not lying to you – their brain is lying to them. Check it out with the care partner before acting on it.