How to enjoy the holidays while including a loved one who has Alzheimer’s

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Anne Cutler talks to Erin Kolb about how best to celebrate the holidays to the fullest and enjoy family traditions while including a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease.

1. Don't try to do too much
To better accommodate a family member with Alzheimer's, adjust your holiday expectations and pace.
Don’t run the risk of being overwhelmed when you factor in a caregiving role. Limit your holiday events to
those most meaningful to your family and ask for help from others as you scale back your preparations.
Often a simpler holiday will be appreciated by all.
2. Simplify holiday decorations
Those with Alzheimer’s can be easily overstimulated by too many or too bright decorations. It is best to
avoid the confusion and safety concerns that can occur with decorations that are easily breakable,
resemble food, make loud noises or flash on and off. Lit candles can also be a hazard. Loud background
music may be disorienting. Create a more serene holiday atmosphere for the smoothest celebration.
3. Keep your celebrations in a familiar setting
A loved-one with Alzheimer’s may become anxious in a shopping mall or crowded setting. Consider inviting
friends and family over in small groups to visit at home instead of going out to large parties.
4. Everyone can get involved
A person with Alzheimer’s can still be an active participant in holiday activities. Get them involved in small
ways such as by helping you wrap gifts or helping you to prepare holiday treats. Another favorite way to
include family of all ages can be to watch classic holiday movies together.
5. Familiarize yourself with the holiday activities in your loved-one’s continuing care retirement
If a loved-one with Alzheimer’s lives in a continuing care retirement community such as an assisted living
or nursing environment, attend the holiday activities planned for that community. They are designed to fit
the functionality of the resident community and can become a new holiday tradition for your whole family.

For more, just log on to: