Alzheimer’s is one of the most common forms of dementia but what does it really mean? The disease usually consists of a group of symptoms that lead to a decline in mental function and is noticeably severe enough to disrupt the patient’s daily life. Alzheimer’s disease can cause issues with a person’s memory and inhibit the ability to learn, reason, and communicate with others on a daily basis. With summer almost behind us, it is important to prepare for how to cope with a loved one during the fast-approaching holiday season.
1. Be realistic.
When you’re asking “What is Alzheimer’s disease?” the answers can be difficult. Holidays are usually a time of great joy but for some, they can be extremely difficult. If you are caring for a loved one who is suffering from dementia it can be hard to enjoy festivities when you are worried. While they may have lucid days, those days are not promised. It is important to set realistic expectations for you and your family. You can still put up the tree together and the Christmas lights but if your relative gets tired or looks confused be prepared to stop and help them feel safe.
Many people put a lot of pressure on themselves to pull off the perfect holiday, but there is no such thing. If you set high standards you are essentially setting yourself up for failure. Take a deep breath and enjoy being in the moment with your loved ones. By doing this you and your family won’t miss out on the truly special moments. If you are relaxed and happy, everyone will feel it.
2. One word: Preparation.
It is important to have a plan in place if your loved one falls ill, or you become a bit too stressed out. Have a list already made of important numbers such as doctors on the fridge where everyone in the family knows where it is. It is important to anticipate a stressful situation since you do not want to be taken by surprise. Preparing yourself will minimize any conflict or uncomfortableness you may run into if something were to happen that was unexpected.
If you have a schedule for your loved one try and stick with it and don’t feel obligated to disrupt them just because it is time for a Christmas show or tradition. Also, have it mapped out who is in charge of checking in on the family member and make sure to include them even if they are sitting quietly, they are listening.
3. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.
If you are run down everyone will know about it. Taking care of someone who is going through the mental instability can be taxing on anyone. If you start to feel physically overrun just take a long, deep breath to combat any anxiety you may be feeling. Try making a warm beverage since warming your hands can help but also some hot coco never hurt anyone. If you are feeling low, try your best to encourage yourself. Positive words and affirmations can go a long way to boosting your mood. Try your best to stay present in each moment, especially with your loved one.
4. Consider planning a few activities the entire family can enjoy.
There are plenty of holiday activities that can include the entire family. Try putting together family game night where you all sit around the table and enjoy one another’s company. If your loved one needs a place to sit but still wants to be a part of the action try baking holiday cookies! They can still enjoy family time without feeling excluded.
5. Put the phones away.
Now more than ever it is important to spend all the time you can with your family and loved ones. Make sure you are actively trying to detox for your phones. There is nothing worse than having people over only to watch them play on their gadgets all day. Try to implement a no phone rule during dinner or other important moments. The entire get together will be more enjoyable if you do.