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Nov 2, 2009 1:00 PM  CST  

Activity Corner: Keys to Keeping it Simple This Holiday Season 

Activity Corner: Keys to Keeping it Simple this Holiday Season

Courtney Cook, BSW

The hustle and bustle of the Thanksgiving holiday can present some special challenges for families coping with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. However, with a little planning you can minimize disruptions and have a joyful holiday celebration for all.

Keep it simple. The Holidays often bring with it a feeling of being rushed. These changes in routine and rushed feeling can often bring mental exhaustion to the members of the family who are not experiencing Alzheimer’s so image how much of an effect these small changes have an Alzheimer’s person. You may want to rethink holiday traditions and simplify. Opt for soothing and quiet activities rather than flashing lights and loud noise. Even a holiday football game or parade can be disrupting for an Alzheimer’s patient so think of other options to keep the mood joyous for all.

Keep it safe. If you are currently a caregiver for an Alzheimer’s patient, you probably know that Alzheimer’s patients can see thing very different from what they really are in reality. Make sure to safety proof your home before having an Alzheimer’s patient as a guest. Avoid artificial fruit, which can be mistaken for the real thing. Remove rugs which can lead to falls and have locks on the doors for places that pose a risk to the Alzheimer’s patient.

Engage the person with Alzheimer’s. Encourage and allow the family member with Alzheimer’s to participate in the activities of the day. Have them fold napkins, grease a cooking pan, or help peel potatoes. However, if your loved one does not wish to help, allow them to spend the day how they safely wish. 

Stick to daily routine. Try your very best to keep things in their usual place and stick to your daily routine as much as possible. Also, don’t forget to administer medications. This will reduce your loved ones anxiety making it a much more pleasant time for all.

Tell friends and family ahead of time. Prepare family and friends who may be coming to festivities about your loved one’s status ahead of time. By doing this everyone will be more prepared.

Test the waters. If you loved one with Alzheimer’s lives in a facility and you are thinking about bringing them home for the holiday celebrations, it’s a good idea to try bringing them home for a short visit beforehand. For many people with Alzheimer’s, being removed from familiar surroundings can be a very upsetting experience. If the home visit seems to stressful, think about having small groups of family and friends visit the loved one in their own environment.

Delegate: Caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s is an around-the-clock job. Allow family members to take on some responsibly during their visit. Let members take on chores around the house like preparing meals. Or, delegate a family member a day to be the loved one’s companion and have them monitor how they are doing.

Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research. (2005). Giving Thanks This Thanksgiving. Retrieved October 15, 2009 from

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For additional information on this Education and News article, please contact:

Courtney Cook
(850) 478-7790

Source: Courtney Cook, Alzheimer's Family Services

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