Here we are again in what is considered in song and verse to be… “the most wonderful time of the year.” I love the Holiday Season because, like so many, it brings back wonderful childhood memories of anticipation, of getting together with extended family members and the joy of now knowing that my own Grandchildren are building their own special memories of the Holidays with my daughter and her husband.
It’s no secret that this is a hectic time of year for many. There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day and if you are like many others, once the work is done, you have more opportunities to hoist a glass of good cheer than the law should allow. It’s all great fun but if you’re suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or you’re a personal caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s type dementia, chances are that these days aren’t so much fun.
Caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s need to be aware of their loved ones strengths and their limitations this time of year and they need to plan accordingly. I’d love to relive my Christmases of old however that’s not possible. What I can do is follow some of the old family practices like Oysters, Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding on Christmas Eve, opening the Christmas stockings together on Christmas morning with the music playing and a fire in the fireplace and following all of that with a big breakfast of scrambled eggs and crisp Scrapple. By doing this, I’m able to recapture many of those memories I cherish so dearly.
If I were caring for a loved one with dementia in my home, I can assure you that things would be quite different. Depending on the individual, it’s quite possible that none of this would appeal to someone with Alzheimer’s. Remember, that they have trouble processing. You and I have no trouble separating out the noise of Christmas music and children playing from the conversation we’re having. Your loved one may not be able to. Maybe yours is a family that also makes an event out of opening your Christmas stockings on Christmas morning as a family. Once again, it’s an exciting time but it may also be one that your loved one may have difficulty with.
Another area of concern and a need for planning should be Christmas eve. Whether you enjoy a big roast or the seven fishes, Christmas Eve is always family fun time. If your loved one is with you on Christmas Eve you need to remember that they will have a limited threshold to tolerate the noise of the kitchen, the music, the multiple conversations and maybe the later hours they’d be expected to stay up.
When you remember that they want to feel safe and not overwhelmed, the result of all of this can be they want to leave, go to their room or they may simply get agitated and nobody wants that. If your planning to have Mom or Dad over for Christmas Eve and you’re thinking of having a few glasses of good cheer you may also want to ask yourself who is going to get Mom or Dad home when they’ve decided they’ve had enough rocking around the Christmas tree? A situation like this could develop after an hour or after three hours.
It’s at times like these that joining their journey is truly important. Trying to force them into joining in the celebration and trying to recreate a Christmas of long long ago may not end well. If that’s the case, remember, it’s the disease; your loved one has not become a bad imitation of The Grinch.
Merry Christmas everyone and May God Bless you for the work you are doing on behalf of your loved ones. If you have any questions you may email me at email@example.com. And remember, Join the Journey.